Is Social Media Killing Social Living?

Is Social Media Killing Social Living?

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The Internet has come a long way since its inception way back when, and we’ve all pretty much taken to it with the same verve. Interaction now, in the communication sense, has changed drastically too, which we all pretty much expected.

Remember the days of the simple SMS, or short message service? These changed the way the youth interacted by extinguishing the need for expensive cell phone calls. The text message became entire threads of messages, which later became frowned upon by the elders for being rude and impersonal.

Texting became a way of life, and it has become cheaper and easier too, with the onset of Blackberry Messenger, WhatsApp, MXIT, and others. But what of these hard core social network junkies? The twitters, the bloggers, the posters and theFacebookers? What has happened to their social life, outside the network? I have a theory.

New-age interaction

Facebook has changed the way we interact. If anything, it has heightened the amount of people we interact with. On average, most of the people I am friends with of Facebook have in excess of 300 Facebook friends. How many of these they actually interact with, socially, or outside, is probably down to 20, but they still interact in some way via status updates, and ‘likes’ with the other 280.

That whole notion of “outta site, outta mind” is now pretty much dissolved. Every time we tweet or update a status, post a picture or comment on a thread, we’re making ourselves known. And a majority sees it. I have FB friends I’ve never met. But I have spoken to them in some way or another, and our paths with undoubtedly cross at some point. And here is where my theory goes against the grain.

Some people will argue that social networks are harming the way we interact, interpersonally. And that in the future, we’ll become a nation of room-dwelling hermits, only conversing with the world via online chatter. I disagree.

While there will be people out there that prefer the damp of a bedroom lair, there are others that prefer a real contact. And what better way to populate your night out than by broadcasting it to, potentially, hundreds of ‘friends’? I know that’s how I’d want to play it. And let’s not forget, people are driven by sex, as much as they are driven to breath. People will always need some sort of real social interaction with each other. It’s the way we breed after all.

The future of social media

So what does the climate look like in the next 10 years? In my mind, it looks like this:

Facebook and Apple will be superpowers, and although they’re not on the greatest terms now, they’ll merge. Google will go back to being a search engine, but will own the online advertising sector in both technologies
and as a vessel. Microsoft will dissolve, and become “just another IT company” and we’ll do everything via smartphone, from making payments, to ordering pizza. The credit card, and wallet, will be relics.

People will become more electronically social because of this. We’ll establish relationships online, but we’ll follow through offline. We’ll attend more events, because they’ll be made known online, and conversations will become as viral as the clips we’ll watch.

Leveraging trends

Money will still be spent in the development of social networks and in ways to make our lives more convenient. Online commerce will go from a small splash, to a tidal wave within a matter of years, and we’ll need to adapt fast. Online security will also reach new heights, as will the skill sets of hackers, hell-bent on beating the system.

All of that is a fairly obvious translation of the years to come. But it isn’t going to be where I’ll be investing my money.

I’m buying a bar. Because, and I’m willing to put real money on this, that’s where people will be meeting the other people they’ve met online. Online social networking will result in offline social engagement.  And I want a piece of that.

Shane Oosthuizen
Shane Oosthuizen is currently the chief copywriter at one of SA's leading digital agencies. Having spent a number of years in the creative arena, he has forged a reputable authority in the South African social and online marketing community.