Thursday, February 19, 2009

These are not tools that enhance, they are tools that displace...

There is an interesting report on the BBC NEWS website about a Doctor's fears regarding social media...
/..Dr Sigman maintains that social networking sites have played a significant role in making people become more isolated.

"Social networking is the internet's biggest growth area, particular among young children," he said.

"Social networking sites should allow us to embellish our social lives, but what we find is very different. The tail is wagging the dog. These are not tools that enhance, they are tools that displace." ../

/..And he claims that interacting "in person" has an affect on the body that is not seen when e-mails are written.

"When we are 'really' with people different things happen," he said.

"It's probably an evolutionary mechanism that recognises the benefits of us being together geographically.

"Much of it isn't understood, but there does seem to be a difference between 'real presence' and the virtual variety." ../

/.."One of the most pronounced changes in the daily habits of British citizens is a reduction in the number of minutes per day that they interact with another human being," he said.

"In less than two decades, the number of people saying there is no-one with whom they discuss important matters nearly tripled."

Dr Sigman says he is "worried about where this is all leading"../
It would be easy to dismiss these comments as the ramblings of someone who hasn't "got it"... but I won't... because I can see truth in them.

Whilst I am an advocate for social media and strongly believe that community is no longer defined by only one atribute - namely physicality - but can be defined by interest/passion too, I do see the need for physical community too. I believe both can/do/should enhance our lives... my recent time off is testament to that - 5 people visited me, a lot more sent cards/tweets/SMS etc. I valued all forms of contact.

I am a firm believer in a firm hug... I believe in the power of sitting down with someone for a pint, a coffee, a tea or another beverage. Most of all... I believe in peoples stories and the power of just coming together to talk (albeit I am learning to talk less and listen more). I believe these elements to be crucial... because we have an inate need to be together... to be in community.

This is why the Twestival was such a success... and why gatherings/tweet ups/meet ups are of such value... because they bring the online into the offline dimension.

We lose a lot in email. I have seen this to be true time and again. We gain so much by speaking... picking up the phone or hooking up via Skype.

Regardless of how we do it... We need to be there... spending time with people... discussing the matters that matter... not on our agenda but their's. Ideally this should be done face-to-face but if it can't we should still seek to connect.

Be there for someone today!

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