Monday, September 20, 2010

Social networks

We are living in an interesting time filled with gadgets that help us stay connected in a very immediate way. They help us maximize our usage of time and prioritize our interactions as we see fit.

It reminds me of a story by Isaac Asimov based on a world where there were 40,000 robots for each person. Contact was minimal between people with conjugal visits between married couples being stipulated as part of the marriage contract since intimacy was so abhorrent in that society.

Of course, with our population nearing 7 billion with no end in site, we face the unique predicament of attempting to be anti-social while standing right next to each other.

My niece moved into a new community where people came up and introduced themselves and offered her help in moving and offered to give her tools to do the work her husband was doing in the yard. Her response was to want them all to go away and run inside and lock the doors. Her children felt the same and said they felt like they had just moved in to the neighborhood from "Desperate Housewives".

I understand a desire for privacy. We all need our space, especially when we are not up to interacting with others. But I think we should have a better balance. If you are part of a community, there are things you can rely on. People watching your house or coming to your aid. You may not want to host the block party at your house but a nosy neighbor is quieter than a barking dog and more selective in their monitoring of your property.

But we have become so unsocial that I see couples that live together post complaints to each other on HERE so everyone can see their argument instead of talking to the person sitting right next to them!

I check out the trends such as twitter but I don't jump on everything just because everyone else is doing it. When all I have to say is that I just woke up or took a dump, do I really have to share that with everyone? And how sad are the lives that find it interesting?

I like my space probably more than most but I do recognize that I am a social being requiring actual, "in person" interaction at times. I have considered getting a bluetooth earpiece so people no longer look at me strangely when I "appear" to be talking to the air but I still venture out and interact with people from time to time.

In fact, since I use a pay-as-you-go phone, I am quite aware of texts (20 cents each) and phone calls away from home (20 per minute!). I don't worry so much about being tracked by such devices though I am aware of it. But any good medical practitioner will tell you how important interacting with a patient IN PERSON is.

So much of communication is lost through these wonderful networks that keep us connected. Ironic isn't it? These social networks that are connecting us are actually disconnecting us.

Not to mention the fact that the ability to read, spell, or write in complete sentences has gone down the drain! And a person rarely asks when they don't understand an acronym or message sent. They just continue in ignorance as even communication itself breaks down.

And let's not forget how quickly we become BFF's with complete strangers. How many people, especially children, meet strangers only to become victimized? People we don't even say hello to on the streets (since politeness is no longer part of American society) we are letting into our homes and even our beds.

That's part of the problem with parents no longer being parents and letting kids do what they want online. Letting the PC become a baby-sitter and feeling secure if 99% of the interaction occurs online. So what if everything goes wrong in that other 1%...

Social networks? Really?

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