TED Conversations

Linda Hamilton

Director and Developer, www.thanknest.com

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Is it possible for us to use social networking, that which makes us feel so disconnected, to reconnect again?

I recently watched a TedTalk by Professor Sherry Turkle who discussed the ways in which technology is making us feel more and more disconnected. Professor Turkle suggested a way to combat this was through having more real life conversations. But how do we compel people to want to have real life conversations, over the desire to feel connected (or disconnected as it seems) using technology?

What if social networking allowed us to feel truly valued again?

I recently developed a website - http://www.thanknest.com - and since launching I have found that when people are appreciated with a sincere and specific thank you message, this compels them to want to reconnect in real life with the person who is thanking them. They say "let's get together", "let's catch up", and "let's get coffee". When you thank someone and tell them what you like about them, you make them feel good about themselves. People want to have more meaningful bonds with others, and want to spend more real-life time with people who make them feel good, & with people who truly value them.

Is it possible for us to use social networking, that which makes us feel so disconnected, to reconnect again?

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    Sep 11 2012: Get real friends? lol

    But in all honesty, those people on Facebook with 1000+ friends can't possibly spend time with all of them.

    "Is it possible for us to use social networking, that which makes us feel so disconnected, to reconnect again?"

    Dat irony. But yeah, social networking is a tool. And just like any other tool, it is the user who should control the tool, not the other way around. And the tool of social networking is to connect with other people. If we ever felt disconnected, it is probably because we weren't using the tool "correctly."
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      Sep 11 2012: Thank you for sharing James - yes, you are right... it is not possible to spend time with 1000+ friends... Dunbar's number suggests between 100 & 230 is about the limit - http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/mar/14/my-bright-idea-robin-dunbar

      Lol, yes ironic isn't it - & I agree with you - social networking is a tool which can be used to connect people - many of whom would never have had the chance to connect if it were not for this tool (e.g., specialist groups from around the world connecting via a common interest). What do you do to use this tool in the 'correct' sense?
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        Sep 11 2012: yeah 100-230 sounds about right in terms of how many people I really spend the most time with.

        Basically, the tool should not be used to when you have so many friends, it gets to the point where you have almost no friends. Friends should not be devalued because of a tool.
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          Sep 11 2012: I think you make an important point - "friends should not be devalued because of a tool" :)

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