January 28, 2011

Is Technology making us Anti-Social...I SAY NO!

The debate has been ongoing for many years now. Technology is making it harder for people to interact with each other. Disconnecting us from people. I say nay! I think it's quite the opposite.

Think back...waaaay back to the 80's and 90's before everyone had a personal computer, Smartphone or IPad.

Okay, is your mind there?

In a time when only rich people had those big ass case-like cell phones, and one of your parents got their first beeper...yes, you remember. If you don't, you're young...watch some old movies. Now, think of a snow day back then. What did you do after you shoveled out, drank some hot cocoa, and dried out your clothes? Kids played, parents read a book or watched something cool on a new cable TV channel, or called someone on the phone--because you really couldn't go anywhere.

These past couple of snow days when people stayed home, for me, was kinda fun. I chatted with some people online, had a few Facebook conversations with people, checked out a bunch of great pictures people posted, played a couple of games to try to beat a high score, and even talked to a few people on the phone. WAY more interaction then a snow day in 1987.

But the cooler part of technology, for me, is that I'm still in touch with people I knew when I was 5 years old before all this stuff came around! Sure, I don't talk to them on the phone much, don't actually see them very often, because we have different lives now, but we are "in touch" and "keeping tabs" on each other online. Celebrating successes, offering our sympathies, and laughing at their anecdotes while watching their children grow.

Back in the day...when our parents and grandparents left high school and college, they pretty much did the same thing my generation did, made strong friendships with people we wanted to have in our lives and made sure to stay in constant touch. But then life, as you know, gets in the way.

I remember when my mother first started Facebook. She was super excited to get back in touch with people she lost track of over the years. Has being online made my mother anti-social. Um, no. It did not. In fact, many of my friends have become her friends, and now realize how funny my mother is, and now know where I get my twisted sense of humor from. (I love you mom! I know you never read this, but...it's okay)

Some of you also know that I play a Star Trek RPG Online. Every week a group of 6-15 people between the ages of 19 and 45+ get together in an AOL chat room and use our imaginations to basically play a self-created interactive Star Trek episode. It's super fun and has honestly kept my creative muse happy for the past ten years. (Gave me the Tiva character too) Yep, I've been playing this game with some of these people for almost ten years. I've made many friends from this group, friends I never would have met in the real world (though I have met some of them since), and I have the internet to thank for them. (Props ECF!)

The internet has helped me make friends with people who share interests with me that very few, if any, of the friends I see on a regular basis like. I can go to a blog or a forum and read and interact with someone who loves Inuyasha, or Indiana Jones, or Duran Duran. I can join a group online that talks only about weight loss or writing. I can post something on Facebook regarding my favorite TV show of the week and know at least one or two people love it as much as I do and will talk to me about it. I can see an awesome Final Fantasy drawing from someone in South Korea on Deviant Art, tell them I loved it, and watch their page for more of the same cool art.

I've watched TV and chatted with people in IM during the commercials. I spent one lonely New Years Eve in a chat room, talking to people about why they weren't or couldn't go out that night, but didn't want to watch Dick Clark alone.

So no, I don't think technology is making us anti-social. I think it has opened up the world to new people, experiences, and ideas that everyone can learn from. It puts knowledge and information at our fingertips that is so easy to share, all you do is click your mouse.

Technology is a tool, and if used properly and with respect, it can change your life for the better.

I know it has for me.


Cherie Reich said...

Great post! And, it's so true. If it weren't for online, I'd go to work, go home, go back to work and only interact with my family and coworkers. I'd lose contact with the hundreds of people I know. I definitely wouldn't want to go back before technology.

Caridad Pineiro said...

I'm not so sure. I see how some younger people interact and they are seriously lacking in certain social skills. Not to mention texting, etc. during dinners, discussions and so on. But you have mentioned many benefits, so I guess the answer is that it's a question of balance.

Jenn Nixon said...

Thanks Cherie!

@Caridad, Great counter point! I think you're right too. I can't stand kids who always write in textspeak! UGH

Anonymous said...

Jenn, you are a social being with a sparkling personality and a magnetic positive heart, social media expands your true self and is a positive tool for you. With that being said, interpersonal social skills are being lost by the techno-generation. Texting during Thanksgiving dinner is simply unacceptable. When technology interrupts interpersonal interaction, more harm than good ensues.

Jenn Nixon said...

@vikki Totally agree! I wasn't really thinking about younger kids, but the text speak is out of control!! I blame the parents though, lol, I never watched TV during dinner, dad made us all sit together!