A friend asked my to help her with a paper of social media and it’s effect on our social lives. I said how I believed social media has come to improve, not degrade our personal relationships. Today everything is becoming more social, thus many things we used to do as individuals, can now be done together. After all, Facebook and twitter are now linked to everything from blogs, to websites, to game apps, to dining room table seating!
Here are some examples:
1) This past week I was studying the personality types of some famous celerities (namely Abraham Lincoln and Bill Gates). I came across a blog written by David Keirsey, the son of the famed psychologist by the same name, and left a comment on my confusion with regard to types. (If you care, I was wondering what made Lincoln an extravert). I also clicked on the feature to notify me if a follow up comment was left. Within 48 hours I received an email notifying me that Keirsey had responded to my comment. (Turns out, Lincoln was far more expressive than he was attentive).
2) We have all heard of Twitter, but few of us truly understand the profundit of this explosion into the world of social interaction, of the highest order. Once upon a time, kings and nobles sat in royal chambers light years from the simplest layman. When one sociologist confirmed a study where he proved a mere 6 degrees of separation between any random person to another, it was received with fanfare. Today though that study is insignificant. Chat up any famous celebrity or personality and if you’re interesting enough you might just get a response! (Me and President Obama by the way: 2 degrees of separation).
The other day I attended a TEDx event here in Orlando and I was talking to a coordinator who does game design. The conversation turned to Twitter and he was saying how he wasn’t too familiar with mini-blogging but decided to post a question/problem he was having. After a few days he had found the answer and updated his status, in brief 140 character form. This continued a few times before suddenly he started getting followers. Not just randoms, but avid game designers who were intrigued by his knowwledge and acumen. He has since become an “online expert” in the field of game design.
3) There was recently an app developed that allowed people to reserve seats in restaraunts through a social media platform. One can choose where they would like to sit, near who, or not near who. This was soon advanced to gala dinner arrangements (as we all know how picky honorees can be). And I have heard that a rabbi, who familiar with the app, tweaked it so that members of his community can pre-arrange their seats for Shabbat dinner. So the virtual becomes actual.
4) I have a group of close friends, and we have developed an online mastermind group. Essentially whenever we feel motivated, or the need to be motivated, we share our inspiration, frustration or encouragement with the group. Of course, we can each view these updates and comment in our own time, so it avoids the issue of having to coordinate an exact time of when we can all talk. We are truly moving into a world of “asynergy” where we no longer have to all be present at the same time to engage with others.
I can probably go on and on, but the point is that the telephone didn’t make us less social (as TV did), and as the greatest technological advancement since the radio, the internet has found ways to bring us together, to find common ground where we’d otherwise either fail to notice or lack the means to follow up. An interesting conversation used to end with “You’re interesting, give me your number so I can never call you”. Today it ends with, “Wow! You’re fascinating, I’ll hit u up on Facebook and even if I don’t message too often, we’ll be able to stay in touch”. Today an innocent comment pertaining to dissatisfaction with a product or service on a Facebook discussion Board can send ripples through a company’s quality control rooms.
Some say we are becoming less social. Some say we are learning to breach the barrier and communicate with people in ways we never thought possible. I say, it’s all what we make of it.