POSTED: Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 9:10pm
UPDATED: Monday, October 27, 2014 - 10:17am
Tyler, TX (KETK) — 15 years ago computers were solely used for business and science. Only within the last eight years, have people used the technology for social media purposes. Now humans are interacting through "likes" and "wall posts", instead of attending social clubs or knocking on their neighbor's door.
KETK spoke with Tom Mullins from the Tyler Economic Council, who said, "It's easier for people to network electronically. But I can't believe it's as gratifying". So something's got to give. Mullins said, "The culture is changing, and it has been changing for a number of decades now. People don't belong to outside groups as much, they're more independent".
In East Texas, participation in social volunteering groups, has dropped considerably. Mullins warns, "I don't see it changing for any reason in the next 10 to 20 years, and so the whole structure of social clubs might be a thing of history".
Groups like the Tyler Jaycees, who have disbanded after 50 years of community involvement. The former President of the group, Bobby Jones, said, "I think the community just lost interest in volunteer organizations, and they just lost sight of what we stood for and what we were trying to do in the community'. This group has made their mark on Tyler through their holiday spirit-- hosting the 4th of July fireworks display at Lindsey Park, the Halloween Haunted House, and Easter bash. Jones said, "We're devastated about it. But you know it takes active people from the town we live in to make this thing go off".
Other groups are facing similar issues. According to Wayne Barton from the Tyler Lion's Club, "Volunteering is up, but joining an organization is down. Our membership has dipped from a high of over 100 before I joined, to around 35 now, and that's been over a 20 year period".
All believe this may have profound effects on the community. Barton explained, "If it continues and we aren't able to increase membership or at least maintain membership, it will be to the detriment of society as a whole if we don't have that".
However, social media is not entirely to blame. The GI. generation is aging, and more females are in the work force than ever before. Mullins explained, "My parents, WWII era parents, you know that generation is disappearing. They're the ones who built these social groups and helped build America after World War II".
According to a study on the "Internet Paradox", people are creating easier and weaker social connections through email and online gaming. This reduces the natural human desire for face-to-face interaction, even though it may lead to a poorer quality of life. Mullins said, "You're not getting to know people as well, you're not accomplishing things together. You might be sharing a lot, but you're not doing community projects".
When people have more social contact, they are happier and healthier both mentally and physically. Britain McKinney from the Jacksonville Kiwanis Club, believes this too. McKinney said, "It's just all around a fun time. We have social events, you know and we are always raising money, but mostly it's fun while we're doing it".
So in East Texas, there are many ways to get involved. Roy Brown, the former President of the Gilmer Rotary Club, said, "The world we live in today is so busy people just don't have time to do all of those things". However, it's never too late to find a hobby, or make some new friends. Brown believes, "My whole philosophy in life is 'the price you pay for the space you occupy, is service to your fellow man".
Here are some of the local organizations that will help get you involved:
- Tyler Jaycees: http://www.tylerjaycees.org/
- Tyler Lion's Club: http://e-clubhouse.org/sites/tyler_tx/
- Tyler Rotary Club: http://www.tylerrotary.org/
- Gilmer Rotary Club: http://portal.clubrunner.ca/3146
- Jacksonville Kiwanis Club: http://kiwanisjax.com/