Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Social Media Revolution

Social Media Revolution. Wow. It's amazing where we are now.

Most often, the word 'revolution' is employed to denote a change in socio-political institutions. The "Revolution" in question deals mainly with the way we gather information and interact with the people around us. I did not fully comprehend how quickly the world of social interaction and media is advancing. Honestly, it scares me just a little.

I am about to officially sound like an old person, but I remember growing up without email. Without the internet. Hell - we didn't have cable until I was in Highschool, and I still remember our very first beta max, artari and answering machine, not to mention my very first Apple computer in college! Black and white screen it was little more then a fancy word processor and calculator - but still I felt so technologically savvy!

In the past 20 years, I have been able to witness first hand cameras turning digital. The internet becoming mainstream (although sadly this happened after college). Email becoming the prefered mode of long distance communication. Beta max, to VHS, to DVD to Blue Ray. Cassettes to CD's to MP3's to the iPod taking over the world. Cell phones - a novelty in and of itself - getting smaller, faster and morphing into handheld computers that have become such a part of who we are - really an extension of ourselves - that leaving the house and forgetting ones cell phone is tantamount to a disaster of epic proportions. They have become a sort of lifeline, something many of us no longer know how to function without.

The pace at which things move these days is dizzying to say the least. Dial up has been replaced by cable and Vios. The speed at which we can be delivered our news is astounding, and really with online shopping and delivery, in today's modern age one could literally never have to leave the house.

But does it make us happier? Is it hurting or helping our human connection?

Facebook has been what I would call an enlightening experience. Through it, happily I have been able to re-connect with many people. Friends from my high school or college with whom time and distance has kept us apart - now a daily check on my Facebook news feed keeps me abreast of the goings on in their lives and vice versa.

On the other hand relationships based on status updates and emails can leave us feeling dis-connected and even farther apart, regardless if the person lives 3,000 miles away - or the next town over and yet you never see them in the flesh. Nowadays I have relationships that are conducted via text message. Hell I was even broken up with that way once. I have had friendships end in email and relationships re-formed and growing in strength via Instant Message and Facebook messages. Isn't it odd?

What I fear is that as we head down this road of technological social interaction that future generations will lose the ability to interact on a personal face to face level. The basic idea of a "revolution" is an uprising and desire to change the way things are because they are not working. I understand that Social Media has it's positive side for news, commerce and business as well as connecting the world to each other, but is it hurting our personal relationships? Will we soon forget how to connect at the human level without our Blackberry or iPhone?

I guess only time will tell.....

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