Social Is About Connecting: Person to Person

You've heard it all, right? The detrimental effect social networking has on our world, including, but not limited to:
  • The steep decline in conversational skills. 
  • An increase in teens who don't know how to talk to adults.
  • People who no longer belong to their local communities; not volunteering, not mowing their lawns, not helping little old ladies across the street....
  • People who no longer care about personal grooming or bathing; staying in their homes and never coming out; only connecting virtually.
  • The end of civilization as we know it.
It's all hooey, to use a polite term. Civilization is not going to end because of social networking. Even telecommuting employees like me come out of our houses, often quite frequently — you're just not seeing us commuting on the freeway in the car next to you. I've not noticed a decline in conversational skills, except for perhaps a reduction in the meaningless "small talk" that isn't exactly scintillating to begin with. And teenagers? Please, when have the majority of them ever wanted to talk to adults? Did you? They have no trouble talking with their peers, and eventually they'll be adults and have to talk to the rest of us.

I'm sure you've seen this quotation, often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt:

My experience with social is that it is creating an immensely exciting new form of communication enabling the discussion of ideas, all kinds of ideas, with like-minded people, regardless of location. Since you're no longer limited by proximity to communicate only with your neighbors, your office mates, or your immediate social circle, the connections you can make are almost unlimited. I think about the people in my virtual social circles, and they include:
  • Classmates, colleagues and friends I've not seen for a while or had entirely lost touch with before reconnecting on a social network.
  • The friends and family of my friends and family. 
  • This one is cheating a bit as an example because I do work for a large multinational corporation, but I collaborate daily with colleagues from all over the US and the world with our internal social tools. Today, for instance, just a few of the interactions I had were with colleagues from New York, Colorado, Massachusetts, Florida, North Carolina, The Netherlands, Italy, Mexico, and India.
  • People from all over the world who share my interests in philanthropy, social activism, books, design, technology, social networking, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, art, accessibility, writing, blogging, all things digital and my other 999 interests.
Does all of this virtual communication prevent me from being active in my community? Not in the slightest. In fact, I think it makes it easier to get involved by exposing me to new ideas.

So the next time someone tells you social networking is changing our world for the worst, you know what to say. :-)