Monday, February 27, 2012

From a "Social Being" to "Being Social"

I have been thinking about this for a while and I see that I am not the only one pondering about this. The question on my mind: is social media making us anti-social? Is "being social" changing us from a "social being" to a not-so-social being? Social media is a new technology, a new platform to connect and communicate and requires new skills. But is it leading to the loss of some other critical skills (and values) that are required to be considered 'social'? 
This post is not about answers; it is all about questions. Questions that I am asking myself and my readers; questions that I am asking everyone whoever is out there becoming "social"...

  • Are we developing new skills and losing some that matter more? 
  • Are we now dependent on social applications like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to connect with people and less likely to use opportunities for a face-to-face discussion?
  • Are we now finding ourselves in more online relationships than face-to-face relationships? 
  • Are we finding and sharing our 'real-life' on the Internet? Where do we experience life as real?
  • Are our connections getting weaker? Does quantity matter more than quality?
  • Are we having the same level and depth in our interactions and conversations? Do we share real emotions or just using emoteicons?
  • Are we closer to each other when we are miles apart or are we miles apart even when we are sitting next to each other?
  • Are we socially isolated even with 1000+ 'friends' on facebook?
  • Are we able to absorb and share deep thoughts using social media tools?
  • Are we still able to write hand-written notes and letters without thinking how am I ever going to get through this? 
  • Are we able to read a long piece of information like a news article in a daily newspaper, from start to end? 
  • Are we reading as we used to or are we simply 'scanning' and 'sharing'?
  • Are we struggling with our own morals and ethics in the online social environment?
  • Are we becoming more impersonal as technology becomes more personal?
  • Are we escaping eye contact and see more and more people with their eyes staring into their mobiles and ipads?
I am a strong supporter of social learning and social media tools have helped companies, instructional designers and learners travel paths of social learning that were a distant dream a few years ago. So, this post is by no means suggesting that social media is bad or undesirable. Social media is useful and important. 
However, as a society, we need to be aware of how we are changing and how to retain some of our skills and values that are timeless. The tools are too new for us to appreciate the long-term effects: good and bad. But it helps to be sensitive to the change.