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Technology: How Social is "Social" Media?

Jonny Goldstein interviewed me back in August 2007 on his show Jonny's Par-Tay [link]. Looking at the countdown timer to the end of the show, around -18:00 he asks me "So... Did you feel a little lonely before you got into all the social media stuff?" to which my response was that I'm actually LESS social NOW than I was before...

Jonny's response was that it CAN lead to socializing, and he mentioned an instance of an IRL event, Vloggercue, hosted by Wreck and Salvage's Adam Quirk that he was going to attend BECAUSE of the people that he met and knew because of social media.

While I agree that it CAN... How often *DOES* social media lead to actual social inteaction, for YOU? My point was that I became less social instead of more social because of the fact that my friends are always at my fingertips. For the sake of this post, I'm defining "social" as actually going somewhere to hang out with friends of mine, IRL.

Frisbee Group, April 14 2007 by Bill Cammack

Everyone sitting at that table (Grace, Rachel, Charles, Obreahny, Sandra & Mike), I'm only *seconds* away from interacting with, via social media, wherever I am. Instant messaging, status updates, texting, email, sites, forums, groups. I did a shoot in Central Park with Obreahny and uploaded it to my server sitting out in Central Park, using the park's wireless access. I get footage from clients overseas via FTP, talk to them on skype or iChat and send them quicktime files for approval/changes. I watched a live stream of PodCamp Philly from NYC and appeared on-screen @ PodCamp Boston while I was sitting in a living room in Maryland.

There's no reason for me to physically go ANYWHERE unless physically interacting with that person is the reason I'm going. You can't go snowboarding together unless you actually go snowboarding. Other than that, the current state of communications enables you to be AS in-touch with someone as you want to be. I talk to my friend @CaliNative all day, every day. We're both MIT Graduates, but we live 3,000 miles apart from each other and never met each other IRL. Meanwhile, there are people that have given me business cards, right here in NYC, that I never spoke to again after that particular day that we met.

Social media allows you to define your enviroment. You can create and maintain relationships that transcend physical and territorial boundaries. You can hold 5 completely separate instant message conversations at a time, which is absolutely impossible on the phone. Does that make you MORE social?... or LESS social? Is "social" being re-defined by technology enabling us to envision new directions?

I also say I'm less social because my tolerance for idiocy has plummeted. :) I didn't have a lot of that to BEGIN with, but when you get to pick and choose the people you interact with on the basis of their intelligence, common sense and relevance relative to what YOU find interesting or important, it becomes really tough to tolerate people talking about 'nothing', or their own agenda which has nothing to do with what you find to be valuable in life.


Anil, Mike, Justin, Debbie, Grace, Bill, Kenyatta, Eric
Photo Credit: Jared Klett

So, yes. Social media DEFINITELY leads to situations where we all get together and have a good time, IRL. I think that more often, social media allows us to FEIGN getting together, which is actually *less* social than more so.

Bill Cammack • Cammack Media Group, LLC

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