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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Social technology, antisocial?

The darling of story of editorial writers lately seems to be the criticism of Facebook, Twitter, SMS messaging, and similar technology that is supposedly filtering people from actual interaction.

The Wall Street Journal reports on how Facebook Can Ruin Your Friendships, while USA Today publishes the story that Twitter haters see no point in tweeting. Reporters and bloggers discuss how people are increasingly hiding behind their computers and cell phones to avoid personal contact. Does this happen? Most likely. Is it the norm? I would disagree that we're facing an epidemic of antisocial behavior.

If Facebook and other communication tools are filtering you from human interaction, you're doing it wrong.

Since I began using Twitter, I have met many interesting people that I spend time with regularly "in real-life." I have made business connections, met clients, and made lasting friendships. I will admit that I don't chat frequently to all my Facebook friends, but to be honest I can sometimes be a bad friend and neglect people. My fault, not Facebook's. The point is, these are communications tools that should be used to improve communication rather than replace human contact. If you don't find them helpful then it is either not your audience on that site, or it is a tool outside of your comfort zone. Either way, don't blame the media.

Think of these as channels on television. Not every channel works for every person. That doesn't make the content on that channel worthless, just not relevant for the user who doesn't enjoy that programming. Is it really a news story that journalist John Doe thinks Facebook, or Comedy Central pointless? Surely there are more important and/or entertaining things to talk about.

These tools can be used to enhance social interaction and increase face to face time. Try to make the most of your interactions.