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10 Nov, 2011

Facebook “Drying Up” Face-To-Face Contact – Social Media Study

Imtiaz Muqbil at the WTM 2011 in London

Face-to-face conversation is “rapidly drying up” as a growing number of people fall into “the habit of switching off whilst checking Facebook in mid-conversation,” according to a survey of 500 users aged 13-25 conducted by a Manchester-based independent social media agency.

Asked “if during a conversation with friends/family/colleagues have you ever become distracted from the conversation by the Social Media accounts on your phone?” 58% answered yes and 42% said no. The agency referred to this response as “astounding.”

A news release by the agency GO Social was published on November 9. It said, “Do you remember when lounging around in cafes and bars used to be a way of catching up on the week’s gossip? Well, now it only requires the most elementary levels of observance to notice that verbal conversation is rapidly drying up.”

Although panel discussions on social media dominate the knowledge-agenda of the WTM London, there is little discussion about its numerous negative consequences on human behaviour and lifestyle, which the GO Social now calls an “all too real reality.” Most of the talk has focussed on the usual rah-rah about the marketing opportunities of social media, and the techniques and methods of reaching more consumers via the new-fangled communications.

However, said the GO Social release, “Almost everybody in the Western world – even the children who were once content with a football – are owners of mobile phones, and access to Facebook or Twitter is just a click away. It is no surprise therefore, that the person you’re speaking to often loses all interest during mid-conversation; fingers poised, chin buried in his chest and concentration engrossed in the robotic monotony of type, send, read.

“If you are somebody who believes that your friendship group is particularly frustrating, then think again. According to GO Social’s findings, 7 out of 10 people admitted that they have sunk into the habit of switching off whilst checking Facebook in mid-conversation. A staggering 63% of participants informed GO Social that they feel awkward without having Facebook at their fingertips.”

It quoted one participant in the media agency’s research, disgruntled with this growing trend, as bemoaning, “I actually feel like I’m talking to myself when I go out with my friends for a drink.” He added, “I can literally look to my left and one mate is on his iPhone and look to my right and the other is on his Blackberry.”

The release admitted that it is, of course, not all bad. “Social Media has given us too many things to detail here but things of which we are all aware nonetheless. Verbal conversation will obviously never be rendered obsolete and the very fact that people are increasingly aware of the “Social Media Replacement” is a good start.

“But it has caused many people to completely neglect all social conventions of manners and common courtesy. Is it not time that we all appreciate the company of those around us, and the benefits we gain from social interaction? The results obtained from GO Social’s research surely prove that it is now time to sign out and join in.”

GO Social Study – Has Social Media Affected Everyday Conversation?

GO Social periodically conducts Social Media Studies in a bid to learn more about how Social Media impacts everyday life. In its most recent study, it endeavoured to uncover the impact of Social Media on everyday conversation, and the results were astounding, the agency said.

Participants: 500. Age Demographic: 13 – 25

Q1) Do you have a mobile phone capable of accessing Facebook and Twitter directly or indirectly through an Application?

Yes – 76%

No   – 24%

Q2) During a conversation with friends/family/colleagues have you ever become distracted from the conversation by the Social Media accounts on your phone?

Yes – 58%

No   – 42%

Q3) If you do not have access to Facebook on a daily basis, throughout the day do you feel as though you are missing something?

Yes – 63%

No –  37%

Q4) If you access Social Media Accounts via your mobile phone which do you access on a regular basis (more than twice a week)?

Facebook – 77%

Twitter      – 48%

Linkedin    – 22%

Access the GO Social website here.