Saturday, October 2, 2010

Social Demise?

I just saw the movie "The Social Network" last night, which ironically coincided with the following conversation I had with someone the day before. Here's what he had to say:

"I think it’s too bad that there’s so much that’s wrapped up in computers. It falls into the line of what seems to be going on socially where people are so wound up in unseen connections. They’re not face-to-face, and there’s a lot that needs to happen face-to-face to understand each other. It’s hard to tutor when they’re on their cell phones. You wonder what’s getting through. I think it’s a social demise, I don’t think it’s going to help socially. It’s like the difference between knowing you and knowing your phone number. You could ask all the same questions but I’m not going to have the same patience. Socially, we’re not planning a lot of guidance that way, people have two or three or four phones now. There’s a lot you lose. There’s going to be some serious social issues."

Agree? Obviously there are pros and cons to almost anything. I guess the questions are a) which one outweighs the other and b) what you use it for [technology]. The movie illustrated how easy the internet can be used to destroy someone's life. You post a hurtful remark or picture about someone and it circulates an uncontrollable wildfire in seconds. It can also be used to connect someone in a fraction of a second half-way around the world who you may never have been able to talk to otherwise.

So is this guy right in saying that the more we rely on technology, the more we lose in relationships? Or is it just a matter of using it correctly? Is the growing sophistication of online profiles and identities making face-to-face contact less and less important?

I agree with this guy in that there are definitely things missed when you're not face-to-face. Body language, tone, facial expressions. Quirks that are unique to that person are lost. Sarcastic tones can't be identified through text messages. Eye brow raises can't be seen over the phone. There's not substitute for the real thing. But when you can't have that, technology is the next-best thing. Skype, for example, was cited by a military mother as a great resource for getting to talk to her son while in Afghanistan. If she *could* talk to him face-to-face, obviously she would've, but this was her best option. My mom loves that I can show her pictures and tell her the status updates of my brothers in Texas and New York.

So yes, it can obviously be used for good or ill. But when will it get too ill, if ever? (I love that I'm using Facebook to ask this, too. Oh, the irony)

This is what I do after I see movies. By the way, I don't think the point of "The Social Network" was about the danger of technology, or the good of it. It was more about the cost of greatness and if it's worth it...or something like that. A "Citizen Kane" type-thing. But it still prompted this.

1 comment:

Sarah G. said...

I think it is a matter of using it correctly. If we allow social media avenues to take over our social existences--i.e., we don't communicate face-to-face--then we are losing one of the most important part of communication: physical human contact. However, if we can't communicate with our loved ones because they are far away, FB and Skype are phenomenal means of maintaining relationships. We miss out on being face-to-face, but at least we aren't writing snail mail letters or not seeing their faces for two years.