Over the last few months I have been considering this question. It started off with the recent snow fall we had and how people were dealing with it. I am of the age where I can remember having similar if not worse snow fall and can remember going outside to clear all of the pavements and and the road along with all the other neighbours and kids. it was quite a social event. Everyone would talk about how cold it was and the weather being bad etc and children making snowmen and throwing snowballs – but the pavements would be clear and Cars could get out as everyone helped each other.
Compare that with today and you get everyone talking about the weather on Twitter and saying how cold it was and to stay in doors and not too go out. I had people saying to me that they couldn’t go out in their car because of the snow. These were younger people who have never experienced anything worse than a couple of inches of snow and certainly don’t know how to travel in a car in slippery conditions. So rather than try and do these things, they simply give up because they have been told it would be too difficult. Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t want anyone to put themselves or others at risk; however my point here is that we simply talk or tweet about these things and not with the people that actually live in our own social community. I personally don’t know all of my neighbours and I doubt if I’m the only one who doesn’t.
So this started me thinking about the so called Social Media – The media might be social, but is it affecting the way we socialise in general?
I was watching TV and saw a programme about Mumbai and the slums. It was a documentary by Channel four, Kevin McCloud: Slumming It. It showed the slums of Dharavi and how it truly had a community spirit. With over 80% employed (yes in the slums the majority worked there) but what really showed was that everyone had a good community spirit with nearly no crime rate and in the evenings everyone was together catching up on things and helping and sharing sharing together. A real social gathering. So what did these people have that we didn’t?
Well the answer isn’t what they have that we don’t, but what we have that they don’t. They don’t have the technology that we do. You don’t see them checking their twitter accounts or writing on their blogs (like me now) but rather they actually communicate with each other in a way that we no longer do. They speak to each other face to face.
What does this show? To me and I’m sure lots of others, it is easy if not easier to send a quick email or msn message, or to write a quick post rather than meet people face to face. We call this progress and technology, but are we actually making things worse. We have lost all of the social skills necessary to communicate effectively with our fellow human beings and now the young ones growing up with this so called advanced technology have lost the ability to talk to others unless it is over a headset while playing their latest game and letting their friends know where they are on Twitter.
Is social media an add on to our real social life or has it become a replacement?
Comparing the positive side of Dharavi Social gatherings and the way we used to help each other when it snowed. I can only come to the conclusion that not everything that is called Social, necessarily improves our Social capabilities.