Rebecca Stewart from the University of Warick’s The Boar, asks whether social networking has lead to a void in our every day lives:
Thanks to the internet, life has been made incredibly easy in the last decade. Families living on opposite sides of the world can stay in contact, we can share pictures of adventures that happened minutes beforehand and a simple hash-tag can start a global revolution. This is in no small part due to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter that describe themselves as “social utilities” providing instant connection to the people and things most important to you.
But has their unprecedented success made them more social necessities than mediums? Psychologist and sociologist Sherry Turkle thinks so. In her talk ‘Connected but Alone?’ she questions whether the recent boom in social networking sites has led to a lack of effort to form and maintain real relationships. The bright lights of Facebook, Twitter, even LinkedIn, have blinded us to the consequences of this social revolution. She asks whether, as we expect more from technology, do we expect less from each other?
Turkle expands on this idea in a New York Times article, suggesting what we value most is control over where we focus our attention. Texting, emailing, Tweeting, and posting allow us to present the person we want to be in a controlled social environment, giving as much of ourselves away as we want and maintaining a friendship without ever having to get too close. The desire to have relationships without stepping out of our perfectly presented bubble means that “we sacrifice conversation for mere connection.” The ability to edit, delete and recreate ourselves is damaging. Stories about people becoming depressed at the comparison of their real life with their friends’ publicised ones are not uncommon. Social nervousness is becoming a real issue for many people who feel that the social networking stage has set the bar too high on personalities. How could anyone possibly compete with the allure of the iPhone with all that “enhanced socialising” at the touch of a button? Surely, then, we should question the benefit of social networking sites and their ironic ability to damage social interaction.
Full story here.