Is the Virtual World Destroying the Real One around Us? Virtual Worlds Such as Facebook and Twitter Are Killing Our Communities and Creating a Voyeuristic Society, Warns Communications Expert Hywel Thomas. Today, He Urges Readers to Go Offline and Return to Reality

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), October 18, 2011 | Go to article overview

Is the Virtual World Destroying the Real One around Us? Virtual Worlds Such as Facebook and Twitter Are Killing Our Communities and Creating a Voyeuristic Society, Warns Communications Expert Hywel Thomas. Today, He Urges Readers to Go Offline and Return to Reality


Byline: Hywel Thomas

T HE post-mortem that followed the riots in England drew some predictable responses from the politicians - citing the breakdown of the family unit and absent fathers as factors contributing to undermine the stability of communities.

And certainly, I would not dismiss the validity of these thoughts but the causes of such social unrest go far deeper and deserve greater consideration and analysis.

Perhaps the clamour to provide an immediate prognosis for the shocking images we witnessed is a reflection of the "everything now" society - a society which demands an instantaneous response to its incessant communications.

We have created a climate which allows little time for personal reflection or to turn over in our minds the important issues of the day - issues which merit serious and careful thought.

"We" have embraced the tools which allow for these conditions - texting, twittering and tweeting, and even created virtual communities where people can share the minutiae details of their daily lives, but more on that later.

For some, the virtual worlds of Facebook and MySpace are more important than the communities they live in and therein lies the problem - a problem which the politicians would be foolish to ignore.

The way people communicate, individually or collectively, is of fundamental importance in creating the conditions for social harmony and a fair and just society.

It is also a vital tool in our own personal development and our ability to interact with others with consideration, sensitivity and confidence - and crucially face to face. There is a danger that these skills are being eroded by the virtual worlds of social network sites which are becoming more tangible to some than the world they inhabit.

Far from being "social" networks which should bind communities, they could be better described as anti-social networks. Paradoxically, in the context of the recent social unrest in England and the subsequent talk of "a broken society", the influence of social network sites was scarcely mentioned.

Those of us who have abstained from sites such as Facebook and MySpace are viewed with something akin to suspicion - Neanderthals, relics of a bygone era, refusing to move with the times. It is this fear of being seen to be left behind or out of touch with the electorate that has resulted in our politicians jumping on the cyber space bandwagon without so much as a second thought. And in their haste to twitter and tweet and increase their Facebook friends - a full-time job these days - they have perhaps lost their objectivity in relation to the way society communicates.

But this is part of a wider issue. In what has become an almost obsessive need to communicate 24/7, we have perhaps unwittingly sown the seeds for many of the problems that society is facing today. We have encouraged a culture where nothing is sacrosanct anymore, where we lay our lives bare on the internet. And the most disturbing thing of all is that people do so of their own volition.

We have created a voyeuristic society and one where the boundaries of what is acceptable and what is intrusive clearly and urgently need to be addressed. It could be argued that the News of the World phone hacking scandal in which that most basic of human rights - privacy - was so crudely violated was the most disturbing by-product of that culture.

The challenge that we face is how to rein in or bring some restraint to this "communications juggernaut" whose appetite seems insatiable - whose reach has extended into so many aspects of our daily lives. When we look at the way the news is reported, for example, there is almost a desperation amongst broadcasters to provide some morsel of news that will keep the rolling news reel from being repetitive. And in doing so quantity is replacing quality and substance.

It may seem at odds for someone with a career in public relations to be so damning in my criticism of the way we communicate today.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Is the Virtual World Destroying the Real One around Us? Virtual Worlds Such as Facebook and Twitter Are Killing Our Communities and Creating a Voyeuristic Society, Warns Communications Expert Hywel Thomas. Today, He Urges Readers to Go Offline and Return to Reality
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.