social media ain’t antisocial


Because I was in a recent business meeting where we were discussing social media and I was surrounded by a bunch of old farts (of which I am also) who were blathering about kids texting too much, how twitter is killing reading and basically all that old person garbage about how the internet is crumbling the foundation of civilization I thought I would write a quick factoid article on how social media is anything but anti social.

I am usually pretty harsh on the whole social media thing. Mainly because I don’t believe most social ‘tools’ (facebook, twitter, etc.) were created for marketing. They were … well … created to be social hubs not marketing hubs. But marketing people, being marketing people, came along and said “wow, how can I take advantage of that?”


Let me spend a couple of minutes on social as social hubs.

Because they do NOT diminish reading skills (by texting & such), or diminish social skills (conversation & talking) nor do they enhance marketing (for the most part).

Some factoids.

PewInternet research has shown that social relationship and sense of community are NOT diminishing but rather growing … and growing n non traditional ways.  Simplistically instead of a tighter cocoon of friends there are now truly social networks … expanded groups of like-minded people (and there can be very obscure ‘like-minds’ but no less passionate & interesting) can be brought together regardless of geography. Social relationships now have no boundaries.  Doesn’t mean they are any less meaningful in fact they can be empowering. Those who felt ‘alone’ … unlike others … are now empowered to find ‘others’ an, in fact, are quite pleased to find many others. Social relationships are being empowered. Let me close this section with this … PewInternetResearch: “Our research shows face-to-face time between teenagers hasn’t changed over the past five years. Technology has simply added another layer on top.

PewInternet research also shows that the internet has actually positively affected core ties and significant ties (definition: core ties identified as close/intimate relationships and significant ties as people to whom one is somewhat closely connected). Internet enables more contact (quantity) than ever before. The quantity translates into stronger, deeper ties with cores and significants.

PewInternet research reflects that 32% of respondents say that internet engagement has increased the size of their face to face network. Only 3% said it decreased them. Overall internet users have somewhat larger face-to-face social networks than non-users.

Research has shown the internet has strengthened church and fraternal organization involvement rather than diminish them (this is an indicator of social involvement).


And texting.

Pewinternet research has found that more frequent texting actually encourages more face-to-face time. In addition research shows it is not about the quantity of texting but rather texting takes more careful crafting that telephone/face-to-face as well as texting more often happens at night/home therefore people share more intimate feelings.

3 out of 10 teens say “they are more honest when they talk with friends online.”

PewInternet research also indicates the internet doesn’t create false selves (and the predators are a miniscule minority … similar to the face-to-face predators who hide as Sandusky-like neighbors) but rather helps people bring out their true selves. Social scientists have suggested that “one can share one’s inner beliefs and emotional reactions with much less fear of disapproval and sanction.”

Oh (because it is topical and, oddly, among all the garbage about the degeneration of our youth caused by the internet social revolution actually came up).

Internet does not create social revolutionaries. The internet just means that anyone can have a voice. But the internet is as fragmented, no, more fragmented than cable tv.

Do you know every station you have available? Have you ever even watched every channel? <answer: no> Internet is the same. Just because someone has a voice doesn’t mean someone will hear it.

Yes. On occasion something can gain critical mass.

And, yes, that is what people call ‘viral.’

But in the scheme of things they are few and far between. What the internet does do is permit likeminded people gather. And if there are enough likeminded people who gather … and they become some derivative of a critical mass … that still isn’t a revolution … it is simply a voice loud enough to be heard.

Oh.  And that voice has to say something meaningful & relevant.

Internet doesn’t (and cannot) create things from a void but rather it gives voice to those things that need to be said (and a LOT of things that don’t need to be said).

Suffice it to say with the internet that the good will be good, the bad will be bad and everyone can take a place in either the good or the bad line.

<note: marketers should read the social revolution section, insert marketing for social revolution and take a moment and ponder>



Conventional wisdom suggests that YouTube, videogames, cable TV and iPods have turned us away from the written word. All these new fangled innovations have replaced paper and longhand letters only to shrink reading & writing into bite-sized status updates, text messages & colloquial emailing (or so the theories abound).

Conventional wisdom, in this case, is wrong.

A large-scale study by the University of California at San Diego and other research universities revealed what some of us have long suspected: We’re reading far more words than we used to as we adopt new technologies. “Reading, which was in decline due to the growth of television, tripled from 1980 to 2008, because it is the overwhelmingly preferred way to receive words on the Internet,” found a University of California at San Diego study.

Take a look at Facebook.  It clearly shows we’re writing more than we used to. Take a look at the blogosphere … the young generation has more opportunities to write and read than ever before. And write and read in response to other writing and things they see.

<note: we adults also have the opportunity to interact with their reading & writing if we choose to>

That’s it.

After listening to a bunch of old farts babbling away about the good ole days (and taking a look in the mirror to be sure while I may look like then I wasn’t sounding like them) I thought  would write this.

as one social scientist stated in a Guardian article: “Step back. The telephone, the car, the television – they all, in their time, changed the way teens relate to each other, and to other people, quite radically. And how did their parents respond? With the same kind of wailing and gnashing of teeth we’re doing now. These technologies change lives, absolutely. But it’s a generational thing.”

In my words? There is nothing anti social about what is happening in the social media world.

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Written by Bruce