Having read this fascinating review by Paul Kendall last week, observing how the digital age is shaping our next generation and moulding us into technology incarnate, I’m inspired to wonder again how far social media and social networking have come to actually making us social, or if it’s time to redefine the terminology.
Concern on the impact of online networking kicked off around 2009, during which time The New York Times reported on the impact of texting on teenagers. Three years on it continues as Generation Z are being further primed to become more robot less human. With a Stanford study personifying them within the next ten years by an inability to read facial expressions or navigate “real world” social situations, the impact on the real world as a whole starts to look scary – and a lot less fun.
“Forging real world relationships and feeling connected with the world around us is going to become a whole lot more difficult”
If superficially consuming vast amounts of information is making us less empathetic, and communicating our lives, thoughts and feelings predominantly via online channels is losing us the ability to make eye contact and read facial and language cues, then the impact will be physical. Forging real world relationships and feeling connected with the world around us is going to become a whole lot more difficult, but no less essential to our emotional and social wellbeing.
So what to do? In an increasingly tough economic, political and global climate, it is going to become even more important to find ways to counteract the rising change in social behaviour. Volkswagen launched a great initiative The Fun Theory in 2009 with the “Piano Staircase” campaign in Stockholm designed to use fun to change social behaviour for the better.
But more must be done to support and find new, fun ways to engage our “digital natives” with each other and the physical world around them.
“Understanding how technology is effecting the social norms, behaviours and relationships of the next generation is a critical first step in understanding how to adapt for the future”
Putting the “social” back into social networking and helping people have more fun together is what citysocializer is all about, therefore understanding how technology is effecting the social norms, behaviours and relationships of the next generation is a critical first step in understanding how to adapt for the future – but I’ll save that for another blog post.
So i think there’s still some way until social media and networking actually start making us more social in the traditional sense, but there’s still time, we’re not a nation of robots just yet.