Jul 25, 2007

Social Media Is Only "Social" If You’re Alone

A few weeks back I was preaching about how Social Media sites are quite anti-social if there are other people in the room, and thus mainly appeal to two demographics: teenagers and affluent, workaholic, single 20 and 30somethings.
What both groups have in common is a feeling of isolation based on the fact that friends and loved ones are not accessible on a constant basis- either because they are living in a college dorm or with their parents (teenagers) or because they work 18 hours a day and tend not to live in the same cities as their college friends.
And as if to prove the existence of this latter group, I stumbled upon this post written by a woman in praise of Web 2.0. Entitled “10 Things We Can Learn From Facebook,” I’ll give you the relevant excerpts:
Local is a state of mind. My new best friend, who I met in December, lives in New York; most of our friendship is bites and bytes, but she's my can I borrow a cup of sugar/do I look fat in the dress pal. (In other words, tech powers connections--powerfully.)
We want to be local, not global. Small is beautiful, and a digital backfence like Facebook's status updates or twitter, has irresistible appeal.
Forget Starbucks, the third place is digital. Got 5 minutes? Need a break? That place you like to go is probably right on your screen.

Again, for the groups I mentioned, social media is a wonderful thing. For a teen or 20something for whom social life is paramount, it’s a way to keep the party going all the time. And for someone as isolated as the blogger above (who it turns out is actually a bit older than the main demographic) it’s a way to stay connected. But for the rest of us, it actually has the reverse effect. I mean do you really want someone Twittering at the dinner table? Checking their Facebook mid-conversation?

I thought not.

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