Communication Revolution or Evolution?

Technology today runs our lives. From our e-mail to Facebooks, Twitters, LinkdIns and everything in between. It’s hard now to imagine a time before being plugged in was essential. It can be difficult to remember that not too long ago, people sent each other real paper mail and called each other when they needed to talk. As society switches to a more technology based way of living more and more people have questioned the way in which people choose to connect. Contentedness and the desire to interact with others is human nature, and previous to the age of computers and social networking sites, getting “close” to somebody was done via face-to-face interactions, or at the very least, a phone call. But now, with the popularity of social networking sites, such as Facebook, has the way in which we connect changed, or just the medium through which we do so? Furthermore, if social networking online does affect our actual social habits, is this effect adverse?

 

The answer to the above questions, many studies have found, is no. Recently, a group of American college students were asked whether they use social networking sites more for social searching or for social browsing (looking up the doings of somebody online that you already know offline versus trying to search for people online to actually meet offline) and the vast majority of people asked said they used sites such as Facebook for social searching. In addition to this study, another one found that 41% of people surveyed used social sites to “keep in touch” as opposed to meet others. Don’t believe me? Check it out here!

 
This shows that the way in which we socialize has not changed, people are merely utilizing the new resources which are available. Furthermore, people are using the sites to communicate with people they already know, not to meet new people, meaning that people have not lost their innate ability to go out and socialize in person. If we had, how would we meet new people with whom we choose to be friends with on Facebook?

Till next time!

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1 thought on “Communication Revolution or Evolution?”

  1. I always thought it was funny, the way that we tend to blame new technologies for our loss of social graces. Why assume that we’re losing those graces in the first place? I mean c’mon, do we really believe that everyone used to be smooth like Clark Gable?

    Your post reminds me of something I once read that I really, REALLY wish I could find online so I could link to it. It’s a long tirade about the destructive powers of new communication technologies, about how teenagers don’t have manners any more, husbands and wives barely know how to deal with each other face to face, that sort of thing. It sounds like an angry editorial by a staff writer for Wired going through his or her obligatory “technology has taken over my life so I’m temporarily unplugging” phase. It’s not until the very end that you see it was written almost a century ago, about the first commercially available household phone. Ha!

    So maybe it’s not all Facebook’s fault.

    It seems to me that whenever we find ourselves blaming new technologies for our own personal shortcomings, it is worth reminding ourselves that the concept of moral decline is at the very heart of our culture. From the Ancient Greeks’ mythologizing of a lost Golden Age, to the Medieval Catholic Church’s obsession with paradise lost, to Le Morte D’Arthur, to our currently lamenting the loss of a kinder, gentler Cold War-era (of all eras to lament), rose colored glasses are built in to the way we think about the past. By comparison, of course, the future will always look a little scary. Maybe nothing is really in decline, so we have nothing to blame on technology. Maybe we’ve always been a little awkward around each other, and social networking just enables our awkwardness. Maybe Clark Gable wasn’t even that smooth to begin with…maybe he just played it well on screen.

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