Is social media killing the art of communication?

Constantly updating statuses, uploading content, scrolling timelines, pages and/or pictures could indicate mental health problems, according to experts.A psychologist linked Facebook and narcissism last year. CNN reported the finding, which was based on a small survey.

The survey revealed that of the 100 college students polled, those with “narcissistic traits” relied more on displaying their looks and presumed intelligence than sharing mere memories.

In an age of cyberbullying, sexting, “leaked” content and employee Googling, concern for ego and image is vital.

But, where is the line drawn? We are more technologically connected than ever and the question remains: Does social media make us self-obsessed?

“I don’t know if social media feeds into narcissism,” said freelancer Bene Viera, of writingwhileblack.com.

“I’m more inclined to believe it just amplifies narcissism for the world to see.

We live in a narcissistic society that existed prior to the burgeoning of social media,” said Viera.

There appears to be an e-balance between revealing enough personal details to make cyber friends feel connected to each other, while also prompting their “likes” or support of entrepreneurial endeavors.

Enough e-dialogue, blog posts and favorable clicks can build an empire. Look at Necole Bitchie and Perez Hilton.

If celebrity blogger status is not achieved, web traffic can at least pave the pathway to accumulating wealth and a name on which to later capitalize.

For some, Internet usage is benign. For others, it can be evidence of personal problems.

Can an avatar adjusting and 140-character message loving generation learn the art of self-expression in person?

Do we know how to schmooze and empathize? Do we understand the importance of time sensitivity, while overusing a medium that rarely offers anyone respect or reprieve?
Except maybe, Michael Jackson, right after his death.

The danger in social media addiction is not just having thousands of “friends” stalk your e-life. Sometimes social media users have dwarfed personalities.

Grambling State University psychology professor and licensed psychotherapist Dr. LaWanna Gunn-Williams broke down the correlation that can exist between Internet usage and failing interpersonal skills.

“Many times people substitute Internet lives for interpersonal contact because these individuals can create online the (people) they really want to be,” she said.

Most of us know someone or several, with questionable character offering Facebook philosophies. Social media sites give users an opportunity to cue their inner Barney.

“They can lie, fantasize, and pretend. These persons are able to find friends who are much like themselves and who help them to validate their own beliefs and existence,” said the psychologist.

The Internet can be healthy when used for support groups, recovery tips and perhaps, spiritual encouragement.

But, the Internet can also be a place of unfiltered backlash, cowardice and condescension.

I use the Internet to network, lurk, keep in touch with people I will not call, promote my writing and occasionally to vent.

I will admit that I am sometimes more connected than I should be. Recently I joked with a friend that she is a social user, I am an addict and our brother figure is on dialysis.

The Internet appeals because of the instant gratification. If we seek attention, someone is always willing and ready to click our way to a momentary confidence boost.

Social media sites can also be hubs for pessimists hell-bent on spreading crummy feelings and unfiltered hate.
Time and time again, we see that the web is only as good as its users.

And with users depending on the cyber world for relationships and emotional support, Jay-Z might need to pen a “Death of people skills.” Moment of silence.

“The long-term implications of relying on technology to communicate include an underdevelopment of appropriate interpersonal face-to-face communication skills, social isolation, and a false sense of being,” said Dr. Gunn-Williams.

“We understand who we are and gain a sense of ourselves through our personal face-to-face contact and everyday experience with others.”

Without those experiences, we will suffer.

“In the long run, relying on technology can create a society of individuals who lack the ability to communicate and who lack the ability to even care,” she said.

That sentiment complements the unfavorable findings about some social media using collegians. Some believe that we only care about self.

Rather than labeling a generation that is hyper-connected as egomaniacs, we should channel our efforts into aligning our cyber and personal selves. We should develop web discretion and stop self-snitching.

More importantly, we need to periodically unplug the gadgets, get sand stuck between our toes, weep, cackle, shake hands, sustain eye contact, grub, love, drive and live- without pressing upload.Our very beings depend on it.