Friday, 13 June 2014

5 Ways to Avoid Anti-Social Networking and Become a Better Person

I have a theory.

The brightest minds of Generation Y were also those that suffered a certain social awkwardness (of which I myself suffer at times). Preyed on by Alpha groups, they were bullied, taunted and excluded from social events - parties, movies, dates. As a result of this exclusion they retreated into their own private worlds. Worlds of gaming and numbers and comics and coding and hacking. The time dedicated to these pastimes, and the skills developed, led to the development of technology that makes it easier for the socially awkward to socialise. And BOOM! you have the birth of social networks.

I may of course be entirely wrong. I admit to doing zero research into the young lives of some of the stars of silicon valley. And by this reckoning I should have sold my first £billion tech startup by now. So either I wasn't excluded enough or spent too much time reading comics and gaming. But still, I think my theory is valid. Here's why:

Social networks are not social.

Social networks feel like an machine produced approximation of social. Like a carbon copy made from artificial fibres. A reflection in a foggy mirror.

Social networks make it very easy for people to 'socialise' in the sense that they can make friends, chat, share pictures, play games and like... stuff. They can also help in arranging meet-ups, parties, events. But here's where the model is broken: when everyone at the party is busy 'socialising' on their phone; or when your lunch date is perforated by chirps, status updates and food-porn photography; or when the worth of your trip to the gym feels pointless when you've forgotten to check in... the point has been missed.
I think the point has been missed.

It's not too late. Be a better person!

OK. I promised you 5 Ways to Avoid Anti-Social Networking, didn't I? The title to this post is, in itself, a symptom of the artificial nature of this environment. Did you spot the irony? Sorry, I'm procrastinating. Onwards!

  1. Put your phone down. Turn the damn thing off. I'm trying to talk to you!
  2. Keep your dirty laundry in its basket. No one cares. And the few that do, your friends, would prefer to chat through your problems over coffee. You're buying.
  3. Shake hands. Go over there and shake hands. Then ask your question about the job/project/movie and wait for a response. This is what we used to call 'conversation'.
  4. Keep a paper diary. A physical record of your most important appointments. No one cares if you open a book and take out a pen. It's way better than looking at the back of your phone.
  5. Write things that are honestly useful. Don't just pull some catchy adjectives and a recycled top ten. Add some value. Think about your audience. What would help them?

Feel better? Let me know. Maybe over coffee.

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