Sunday, January 26, 2014

My time Alone Together

As I am sure you are aware (and couldn’t avoid even if you wanted to), there has been a huge debate in the sociology/social media worlds about the effects of social media technology on our interpersonal interactions and social lives. 

On one hand, social media allow you to connect to, keep track of, and bond more with a much great diversity of people despite physical distances.  We can now move across the world and still keep in touch with family, friends, business contacts, and our favorite sports teams. 

On the other hand, we can be a lot more shallow in a Tweet or Facebook post than we can in a face-to-face conversation.  If you take the time to go to someone’s house or meet them for a beer at the local dive, you are going to say more than 140 characters.   

Some of my favorites:

I am not going to go into either of these sides because there is plenty of material already and a lot of it is really insightful.  No, instead I am going to warn about the hazard of trying to split the difference and do them both in parallel.  I went out with four friends a few days ago.  We went out together because we are friends.  We enjoy each other’s company.  We have mutual interests.  We have lots to talk about.  At least that is what I thought.  But for 90% of the evening, all four of their heads were buried in their phones – checking email, Facebook, Twitter, et al.  I would have taken it as a personal insult to be so totally ignored except that they were ignoring each other as well (yes, I looked over their shoulders to make sure they weren’t all texting each other J).

It is a good demonstration of the Power of Habit, the Fogg Behavior Model  and Hooked.  When the signal of a new tweet, email, text, or post comes in, the dopamine rush automatically elicits its associated response – look to see who it is.  And it is too tantalizing not to check real quick what it is about.  It will only take a second, that isn’t too rude to my friends.  And just one more second to punch out a quick response or to bookmark it for later.  Maybe with just a few additions to remember it.  And just one more little think on top.  15 seconds tops.  And then 15 seconds later, the next tweet, email, post, or text comes in and the activity cycle happens all over again.

But I really wanted to hang out with my friends.  I didn't feel like I got much of that.