Social Hermits

Posted on August 27, 2010


Social media is cool. Social life is better.

A friend of mine (@keithdemele) recently took a lengthy vacation from technology. After re-joining the online community, he filled me in on his curious revelations. Unplugging himself from the so-called social networks, he found himself more social where it counts: out in the world.

For the last few weeks, I have been pondering the oxymoronic principle of becoming social hermits by connecting so much that we actually disconnect. In reality, the more we attempt to socially connect in emerging media, the less we are connected to the world immediately in front of us.

Take a college campus, for example. On the bus, you seize the opportunity to update your class schedule on Facebook and see where your friends are headed for the day. You step off the bus and, while walking toward your first class, you make sure to check in on FourSquare so everyone knows where you’re at and you can see who else is in the vicinity. You check in at each class, while updating your Facebook and browsing location-based apps for the local special at lunch. During lectures and while walking, you keep up with Twitter chats and conversations regarding your interests. The entire time, you’ve connected, shared, and interacted with hundreds of people.

And you didn’t say a word to another human being. You didn’t shake a hand.

In my opinion, one of the greatest challenges facing the ever-growing social network population is to mesh the online community with the real world.

How do you push actual human interaction? Is it even important?

Posted in: Emerging Media