Socialising … nine lives?

I have never had any doubt that technology changes our world and the way we do things but I have always remained suspicious of grand theories which proclaim a new world immediately. I really do think that change is constant but subtle: it has happened before we know it and before we can identify it in many ways. More importantly, it is Darwinian, it evolves over time so that it is easy to look back and see where we came from but very difficult to look forward and accurately predict where we are going to. The use of social networks provide an interesting example at the moment. At a certain age we feel compelled to connect and “keep up” and we presume our kids will be 100% connected all their lives: but how true is that assumption? Psychologist and sociologist Sherry Turkle originally proclaimed social networks as an enormous breakthrough in human communications, allowing us the freedom to interact which on a face to face level we are often denied. Now, however, she is taking the opposite stand point, agrguing that she was wrong and that constant connectivity can be negative for our personal development: it is not the same apologising face to face as it is via SMS or facebook which is what is most common at the moment especially with younger kids and adults.

An interesting contrast to this conceern is provided by a recent article discussing the growing number of young people who are keen internet users but who use social networks less and less:  I have read a similar article in the Economist recently on how many of the “big” social sites have larger and larger numbers of inactive users but unfortunately cannot find the link at the moment. The main argument, however, was very clear: major social networking sites may be another internet fashion with a shorter than predicted lifespan. Anybody remember Second life? I am still living my first one.


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