When you are as old as I am and look back on the changes in how communication is done it is completely unreal. OK, I can remember black rotary dial phones (touch tone was a big deal back then) and my first job was at a newspaper company that still occasionally used a hot lead linotype–setting up a newspaper with photo typesetters was really cool technology. Without doubt the movement of interpersonal communication from letter writing, phone calling and personal visits to email, blogging, Twitter, Facebook and all kinds of social media has transformed lives, changed how we interact, revolutionized our culture, and modified our values.
But, is that a good thing? There are some whom I respect immensely who are convinced that it is about 85-90% bad. Others seem to accept any “progress” in technology as an inherent good. I am of the firm opinion that like almost all other ideas and inventions of humankind, it is neither good nor bad apart from the heart and intention of those who use it.
Pew, the authority on all things opinion-related on the Internet, has done a study of what you and millions like you think about online socializing, including what you think it will mean for the future. Here’s their new study.
But, the topline is 85% say the Internet has been a positive force in their social lives and will only become more so in the future. 14% disagree, saying it is negative.
Among the negatives noted by both groups of respondents: time spent online robs time from important face-to-face relationships; the internet fosters mostly shallow relationships; the act of leveraging the internet to engage in social connection exposes private information; the internet allows people to silo themselves, limiting their exposure to new ideas; and the internet is being used to engender intolerance.
Many of the people who said the internet is a positive force noted that it “costs” people less now to communicate — some noted that it costs less money and others noted that it costs less in time spent, allowing them to cultivate many more relationships, including those with both strong and weak ties. They said “geography” is no longer an obstacle to making and maintaining connections; some noted that internet]based communications removes previously perceived constraints of “space” and not just “place.”
So we can now make more friends and acquaintances faster, at less cost, and without regard to geographic location. Yeah, sure, I can see the advantages. But I get tired just thinking about it. Maybe I’ll use my old black rotary and dial a few friends and family members for an old fashioned picnic. We can take the time to look each other in the eye and actually talk.