Does Social Media Make You Less Social

Just as I was thinking that this Social Media phenomena was actually making me more social, along came this post by Bill Cammack over on FastCompany's new website, which I am liking a lot .. but a post is forthcoming on that soon.
Bill was interviewed by Jonny Goldstein on his Par-tay and his response to Jonny's question as to whether or not he thought social media made people more social was it does not. Bill said :
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.
Jonny actually thinks that it can lead to more actual social interaction and I agree with him. Seeing as I met Jonny through a mutual twitter friend and have since started watching his show regularly and seen him in actual person on several occasions it only leads to reason. Had I not been using these new social media tools, I would have never had the pleasure of not only meeting him, but a whole slew of other great people in the local DC area here.

Bill makes some interesting points
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 think that more often, social media allows us to FEIGN getting together, which is actually *less* social than more so.
but i tend to disagree with most of them, especially that last one there. I think that once you find your niche in these social tools, like Twitter, it leads to some really interesting real life social interactions. The fact that I have some background on the people I have found really makes the real life meeting that much easier and more comfortable. Meeting people "cold" is not easy, but when you have that online rapport already established it helps the transition. Then once you have a base of these "online"/"offline" friends the tentacles spread out from there and you meet the friend of one of your friends and so on. Here is an irony for you, now when I meet these peripheral friends, if you will, I go online later and start following them, and the cycle starts again.

In my opinion, my foray into social media has led to some great contacts, good friends, and thet start of a burgeoning tech culture here in the DC area.

So what do you all think, does social media make you more social ?

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  • Nathan Minetti

    I think used in the right way social networking can make you more social. I find it works better for connecting with old friends then actually making new contacts. I still find it easier to keep communication with a large group of people without a large time constraint. In this busy world most people dont have time to personally see everyone they know. People must remember though that a physical interaction with people is still needed and a post on someones wall is not the same as a visit.

  • Julia Scott

    I assume that old-bags (such as myself, being at the tail-end of gen X) rarely socialise IRL with our social media 'friends', while young things (gen Y's) are more likely to extend their OL networks into RL.

    Or am I being ageist!?...

  • Shel Horowitz

    Why I have seen social media make *some* people more social, I've also seen the opposite. Social media allows people from widely disparate geography but sharing common interests to build relationships.

    I have seen this wonderful phenomenon at conferences: Walk over to someone, squint at the name tag of this person you never met, and then give a big hog because s/he is an old friend online. And so much of the small-talk introduction stuff is already under the bridge that you actually can go pretty deep when you finally do meet some of these people.

    Shel Horowitz, copywriter and award-winning author of five marketing books Blogging on the intersections of ethics, marketing, media, sustainability, and politics:

  • Isaac Pigott

    True, Marc -- but I could also say that water can negatively impact a person's ability to breathe. It's all in the amount of social media used, and how it is ingested and processed.

    As for leaning too much on tech for communications, there are many who mistake productivity with personal effectiveness. Let's not discount the notion that an incoming generation may place greater weight on the forms we might dismiss as more impersonal.

    That said -- I wouldn't have hired your associate candidate either.

  • Marc Hausman

    I agree 100 percent that social media technologies can negatively impact a person's ability to interact with individuals in a business environment.

    For instance, I work for a public relations consultancy and we are often challenged to find associate-level candidates who have people skills.

    One person I interviewed actually said they prefer to not deal directly with people, rather communicating via instant messaging, Email and social networks. I had to remind the person that PR still stands for "public relations."


  • Saabira Chaudhuri

    Enjoyed your post Jimmy. I think the catch here is that there are different types of people – for the more tech savvy, or perhaps just those whose lives are largely structured around their Internet activity online social networks expand not only their list of contacts, but also increases their interaction with others – both online and offline.

    For others, social networks are a convenient way to keep up with what's going on in a contact's life, but these often lend themselves more to voyeurism, or to perfunctory messages or wishes (for things like birthdays) than to an actual increase in interaction that goes beyond a simple whatsup?