Social media is supposed to enhance our ability to connect, but I am seeing more and more evidence that instead of moving us forward, it is moving us backward socially (and making us a bit more backwards in general). Here are some of my recent WTF observations:
-Yahoo reported that when the “Science Guy” Bill Nye collapsed in a college lecture, the students’ first reaction was to rush to their mobile devices instead of rushing to his aid: http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread631232/pg1
-The willingness to engage with crazy people: If you come across a lunatic spewing offensive nonsense on the street, you would avoid him (and in my case, I roll my eyes), not stop and tell him why he is wrong or crazy. Online, somehow people decided it was a good tactic to engage these crazy trolls
-There are gaming workshops (quite a few in China, as profiled by the documentary Chinese Gold Farmers: http://chinesegoldfarmers.com/) where people are paying other people REAL MONEY to play online games for them, to earn VIRTUAL MONEY and more status in their games
-Instead of confronting issues in person, issues are now being dealt with by texting: http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/28/do-you-feel-awkward-talking-to-your-friends-in-person/
-And speaking of writing what you would never say, people are putting all sorts of crazy shit in emails, DMs and texts that they would never (or at least shouldn’t ever) say in person.
I’ve even seen people who are the best of “Tweepies” online barely say anything at networking events (I mean, “Tweet-ups”) and others spend more time interacting with their mobile device than the people sitting at their dinner table. Still others are more worried about enhancing their follower and friend counts, rather than investing in their existing relationships. Instead of giving businesses an opportunity to fix their mistakes, many customers are going directly online to rant.
Is it just me, or do you think that it’s time to stop the insanity and use social media to enrich our relationships with each other, not isolate ourselves into a state of social retardation? I’d love to hear your views.