Until recently, I always kind of agreed with the general wisdom that social media was robbing us of the ability to interact human to human. But then I read something from a well-known and very entertaining social media maven, Kristen Lamb, that made me reconsider. In her book, Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World, Lamb put social media into historical perspective, which was a fascinating exercise. She believes that social media is a natural result of our short attention spans, and that it is part of a natural evolution from an earlier time, when lengthy tomes like War and Peace were the norm. But more importantly, Lamb posits that social media has allowed us to interact better because we can now reach out to millions of people around the world, instantaneously connecting and sharing. It’s easy to see where a shy person, safely hidden behind the anonymity of a user name and an Avatar, could enjoy much more human interaction than before social media. Writers are a perfect example of that! Most of us tend to be introverts and if left to our own devices would probably never leave the safety and comfort of our own little spheres. But with social media we can reach out and connect with readers, other authors, and people who share our interests.
Yes, some conversations that might otherwise have been conducted face to face are now happening on a broader, much more public stage. And there is definitely a danger in hiding behind anonymity. It’s much easier to treat people badly if you don’t have to look them in the eye. It’s a danger we all need to guard against. But what we lose in physical touch, maybe we can make that up in emotional gains. While a Facebook friend is not necessarily the type of friend who will help you move or bring you chicken soup when you’re sick, if you treat that friend right…with human kindness and consideration…there’s no reason the friendship can’t gain that type of gravitas over time.
Have we connected online? If not, what are we waiting for? #:0)