I am old enough to remember when you would wait until a late hour of night to make a long-distance phone call on your analog home phone to save money. And you had to make sure to turn the rotary slowly so you would not hurt your fingers.
I also remember you had to go to popular teen hangouts like the skating rink or the mall to meet fellow teens. That’s right, physical interaction when you first meet someone. When you hopefully did, you would scribble down their phone number and call them—late at night on your analog phone.
If it was a girl, you would have to steel yourself for that first awkward hello over the phone only to be surprised when her dad curtly answers the phone and then puts it down before you have a chance to say your name—true story of my first call to my future wife.
Oh, and heaven forbid the girl lived in another area code. In high school, this often meant the number was DOA unless you wanted to tempt the wrath of your parents. If your friend moved away or went away to summer camp you would write them a letter (on paper) and then you would mail it and wait to see if they mailed one back. If you wanted to talk to someone in another country, you got a pen pal.
Things certainly have changed since way back in the 1980s/early 90s. Internet-based social media platforms are fundamentally altering the way people interact, meet each other and value their relationships.
This is especially true for the high school and college-aged set. They grew up when this new communications technology was born and the new social mores and rules were continuously evolving. College-aged students never had to deal with what I did at that age. Conversely they have had to deal with things like cyber-bulling that I never had to deal with.
Lynn took an early step into this brave new world and we now pride ourselves on working in social media and using it to communicate with students, staff and other friends of the school. However, this world changes often and new technologies are always waiting to come into the fray so we must remain ever vigilant as technological advances continue to drive social media evolution.
And many agree that the consequences for this paradigm shift in how we socialize have yet to be fully understood. Books like The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr say the internet and its spawn social media are fundamentally altering how our brain process information in a bad way. Then there is Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age by Maggie Jackson—I think the title says it all. Whereas, books like Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge by Cass R. Sunstein look at the vast possibilities Internet-based interaction and information dissemination using platforms like social media will provide. Sunstein and other authors argue that the aggregating of knowledge will benefit society in a multitude of ways.
I tend to agree more with the positive picture. If you take the long historical view, I think social media and other Internet-based information platforms could be something similar to Gutenberg’s printing press which helped usher in the Renaissance and served as a major agent of change for the betterment of man. But then again, have you seen some of the videos on YouTube? Not the new dawn of a golden age to be sure.
Are there new social media tools that you have used for the first time recently? Do you feel social media enhances your life or have you ever tried to limit your social media activities? Now that Facebook is several years old does anyone out there feel something new might take its place? Am I asking the right questions or are there better questions out there?
I find all of it fascinating and would love to hear other thoughts.