Alternative perspectives on social media impact

My article this week on social media’s impact on personality development spawned many thought-provoking comments and insights. I wanted to share some of the best posts with you as we continue to explore the dangers and opportunities presented by the daily digital hurricane.
Trevor Longino, CEO, Overnight
I think, as we reach a point where practically everything about us is tracked and assembled in one location (anyone here heard of Google Wave yet?) we will find that anyone who’s not fully opted-in to the hyper-connected reality of the early 21st century will be increasingly out of the loop. Sure, when the CEOs are all people who are 50, never got comfortable with computers, and don’t understand how to “get a twitter,” the gradient is tilted in opposition to the differently socialized kids of today. But wait a decade and see what happens; everyone who can’t dip into the stream of endless communication, sharing, and feedback will find themselves high and dry. My only despair, with younger siblings who are 17, 15, and 13, is that they may send 500 texts a day, but they don’t spell a word correctly in any of them. 🙂
James Wallis Martin, Director at JB Metrics
…short attention spans, a lack of social skills, and a shaky sense of identity. It sounds like what every generation says about the generation about to come. I am sure it was uttered by researchers in the 50’s (Rockers), then again in the 60’s (Hippies), then again in the 70’s (Stoners), then skipped in the 80’s as everyone in the decade suffered, (not just a single generation), then again in the 90’s (Slackers), and now in the 00’s (Emos).
Social networking is allowing all of us to stay better connected with our friends around the world, those that we otherwise would lose contact with, and helping those that find it difficult to socialize, (either do to location, interests, or personality traits) to be able to socialize. I would postulate that the researchers that are critical of social networking are the same folks who find it difficult to find five friends to invite in Facebook. (whether because they are not comfortable with the technology or because they are stuck in physical mode only wanting to socialize with people they can see in front of them).
Brenna DeLeo, Social Media specialist, Image Communications
I agree with your article, however I think that many of these problems are due to a dependence on electronics in general. Instead of playing outside with their friends, young kids are on their computer or gaming systems. The constant use of MP3 players, cell phones and portable games prevent the awareness of the environment around them, not to mention the opportunity to meet and interact with new people. Overall, I agree that ‘short attention spans, lack of social skills and a shaky sense of identity’ could very well result.
John Bottom, Director at B2B agency Base One, U.K.
Mark – I echo your concerns, but is this change necessarily change for the worse? Social standards have constantly changed through history. For example, much modern social behaviour would be considered shockingly casual/rude/impolite to a Victorian observer, but who are we to say that they were wrong and we are right? Or that future generations, as they continue this trend, are wrong. Of course, the growing use of social media, texting, iPhones, video games etc is a big issue today. They’re all technologies that catalyse change – just as movies and TV helped make us different to previous generations. This will undoubtedly have implications for the future, and we (as the over 20s) need to be aware of it. But is there any point trying to stop it? Or even worry about it? The only certainty is change…
Zulfigar Deo, MBA student, Haaga Helia University, Helsinki
Progress is adding to what has already been done. The fundamental nature of change you have mentioned started off last century. If you look at the rate of progression we have made in the last 100 yrs, you’ll see never in history has man done so much in so little time. e.g the fax has come and gone, cassettes have come and gone. Social media, how long do you think it will stay for? I agree we are finally heading towards doing things in a way that even if we wanted to relate to the past we won’t be able to, but this is the start of the acceptance that we are fundamentally doing things differently. Should we start talking how build a sustainable competitive edge from this?

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