Tiger Flynn

General Manager, Red Stag Management

This conversation is closed.

The Internet: Has it made us more or less social?

I believe that whilst the internet, used well, can open up so many more social possibilities for everyone, I feel that it has made us more insular too.

Maybe not TED users so much, but a lot of people using social networks have ironically made us more tunnel-visioned than ever. When I look at how many of my friends on Facebook use it to reach out for acceptance of almost every facet of their existence I find it a sad state of affairs. Cry-for-help statuses, choosing the best profile picture and so on.

It also makes us more lonely. For example if someone has experienced a terrible break-up and posts increasingly desperate statuses about it, less and less people like it and comment on it making the poster feel even more alone.

The way we reach out is different now and has expanded our horizons in a way not possible even when I as a teenager (I'm 30 now) is incredible in many ways. But the focus on the self and how to best represent it has become for a lot of people their raison d'etre and has made us more insular.

What does everybody else think about this?

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    Oct 23 2013: I think the internet neither made us more nor less social but only changed the way how we interact with each other.
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    Oct 31 2013: I just watched the most recent talk by Abha Dawesar about "life in the digital now" and I think she brings up a good point about a digital illusion. So many more of my tasks every day are committed to sharing it on social media, that I often lose track of being in the moment and realizing that time is not data - and time can never be replaced by it.
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    Oct 28 2013: Both. How can a person justify if he loves more to live or more to die? It is all related. I say that if Internet were not there we could not have this wonderful platform to share our ideas sitting miles away from each other, in different countries, not knowing each other, yet helping each other with the jumbled thoughts surrounding our mind. But if there again is a point of misuse of information we provide on social media like Facebook or Orkut or anything and see the problems and daily instances of hacked accounts, fake accounts. The Internet crime is not a new idea to any of us. People misuse what they should have properly used. I would say all of this is very much dependent on human psychology. Human beings have a close circulation on thoughts. They make haphazard decisions not on what is right or what is wrong morally, but to what they consider is right or wrong. The hackers are not really wrong, but to the atmosphere or social atmosphere, to be precise, that they faced was pretty different than what any other scale of population might have faced. It's all on the type of environment that a person is brought up in. Human beings get molded in any direction at a tender age. The Internet does not really guide them for that. So yes, Internet is surely something more than a boon and something less than a bane.
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    Oct 26 2013: It is a question of both spatial and emotional distance.

    The fact that we are collectively engaging in this Ted Conversation with peoople from around the world demonstrates one way that the Internet makes us more social. Groups of people can also engage in real-time exchanges and massively multiplayer games without ever seeing each other. However, to th extent that individuals withdraw into a virtual world or use ithe Internet as a substitute for meaningful conversation or live connections with friends and family, then the Internet can make people less social.

    So the definitive answer is: "Yes, the Internet makes people more or less social."
  • Oct 25 2013: It is true and undeniable that Interet has shifted the way we interact; hence, the way we tend to perceive things.

    I strongly believe that internet, used wisely, can result pretty benefitial for the users. while, tending to use internet badly will definitely bring bad outcomes such less privacy, low self-esteem in certain cases or perhaps isolation, or even worse, the lack of reality perspective.
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    Oct 20 2013: I didn't say it's primary agenda. I said, that internet makes us think and feel that we are social. The membrane is metaphor for creation your ideal identity you would like to reach (self-promotion, self marketing, as you said so) but when you look your reality it's full of insecurities, complexes, so you rather run away into your virtual reality... Only the illusion of sociality is available the internet. Also... veliki pozdrav ;)
    • Oct 21 2013: Indeed, and it might negatively effect one's personality development, in a sense that "the membrane" allows individuals "run away" instead of dealing with their insecurities.

      Also, mozda gresim, ali ljudi sa nasih prostora relativna retkost na ovom forumu, iz nekog razloga... Moderatoru se nece svidjati ovaj kligonski jezik kojim pricamo :D
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    W. Ying

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    Oct 20 2013:

    It has made us social
    more in quantity
    less in quality.
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    Lejan .

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    Oct 18 2013: quantitatively or qualitatively?
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      Gord G

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      Oct 20 2013: Quantity is quality when defining sociability. ;-)
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        Oct 20 2013: Thats new to me, can you explain?
        • W T

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          Oct 20 2013: I may be wrong here.......but Gord's winky face may be indicative that he said it with tongue-in-cheek.
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          Gord G

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          Oct 20 2013: In the strictest sense social is the interaction of organisms. If interaction is the defining quality of being social then quantity of interactions becomes the indicator of quality. The quality of the interaction is defining the interaction not the act of being social.

          I think a bizarre example of this idea is Facebook friends. Displaying the number of friends was a brilliant way to tap into our evolutionary instinct to form social bonds (a bit like an arms race). Another example would be a punishment we reserve for the most heinous criminals...isolation.

          BUT Mary was right...I was chuckling at the silliness of the notion.
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        Oct 20 2013: I was plying naive on purpose to get you going, Gord and Mary almost blew it! ;o)

        I don't quite buy your definition on social interaction, because if it was true, I would never have felt 'aöone' among other people I was interacting with, as I felt, and cashiers in the supermarket would not need special 'friendliness' training as they get.

        My approach is more focused on the 'purpose' of social interaction, and for this its quality is highly subjective.

        'Facebook friends' to me are nothing but the inflation of an already highly diluted term regarding its meaning.

        Yet as I said, this topic is highly subjective.
  • Nov 14 2013: It seems to me that social commerce and social media are only magnifiers that bring attributes and personality traits to the surface that the person already has. A whiny person in real life is going to be substantially more whiny and high maintenance on Facebook when they begin posting about a break up. A positive and optimistic person is going to explode your news feed with inspirational memes and quotes.

    I do agree that the veil of social media has seemingly dumbed down the accountability that some feel in their virtual communities, and also that there is a false sense of emotional fulfillment that comes from social networks. All in all I believe this contributes to the actual traits being a magnified and an exaggerated version of reality and what is really felt. What would you say and do if you felt little to no accountability for it?
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    Nov 12 2013: I've found that the Internet makes us more of what we are: I've found people to be incredibly friendly to others while others have taken advantage of their anonymity to be complete jerks.
  • Nov 7 2013: My roommate met his current girlfriend on the internet. I spoke with her briefly online, was charmed and understood why he felt he had to meet her in person. When we all met face to face there was a component of our interactions that was completely missing with her. Her facial expressions gave absolutely no clue or window into her mood or thoughts. I was thrown off and left the two in peace; thinking that I may have been intruding. Afterwards, I was informed that she quite enjoyed speaking with me and wished I would have spent more time with them.

    Sadly, proficiency in online interactions does not translate into that same facility with personal ones. I always wonder when I meet people now, what in fact is going on in their heads. Without emoticons to convey their feelings, often they stare at you blankly and you walk away thinking yourself a nuisance. In the same way that a poorly worded text message drives a wedge between two people who would otherwise get along well, so too does this lazy presentation of yourself to the world around you.

    I believe this stems from a reliance on words to convey too much. In short...we talk too much. :)
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    Nov 5 2013: I think the internet, at the moment, made us less social. Because the internet is primarily text-based, it's hard to convey tone and gesture. It's so easy to misinterpret things online or through an IM and therefore it's equally as easy to feel isolated. Perhaps one day there will be a way to convey these subtleties in the human language but until then, I'm not sure the internet can every provide the intimacy that talking to someone in person can.
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      Nov 10 2013: I agree with your analysis. On the other hand, perhaps because I'm retired and of an age when proper grammar was rigorously emphasised in our education, I enjoy labouring over my internet text communications (and although I have a number of dictionaries close to hand, am a big fan of the spell-check function).
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    Nov 3 2013: The only thing I could conclude from my experience is that I remain as a social creature as before...
    I still need social companion and forms of modern day grooming, friendship and relationships.

    Being able to communicate across my local boundaries is an advantage, and sometimes I don't go out because I can satisfy my social urges by being behind my laptop.
    I do still need physical and face to face contact. Internet cannot replace that.

    I do wonder what your appreciation of "cry for help" in face-to-face or group situations is... (compared to those cries in social media) Do you think those people would be more or less lonely if they would cry out in public? I really don't know.
    Or standing in front of the mirror or wardrobe to select your best outfit for the occasion? Is that so different from trying to make a good online impression?

    For me, I would tilt internet in favor of my social life: I met a huge number of interesting people (sharing same interests) in real life, because I organised meetings through use of social media or participating in events where such people go to. (I wouldn't have been a TEDActive attendee or TEDx organiser otherwise).
  • Oct 23 2013: Because anyone can be whoever they want the world to think they are on the Internet , it has made me take a closer look at myself and concentrate on being more authentic and transparent , firstly with myself. Has it made me more social , probably , but not on the Internet.
  • Oct 21 2013: I believe the Internet has given courage to those who were (and possibly still are) afraid of physical interaction, but the opposite has also allowed people to say things they would never have stated in person. Take cyber-bullying as an example; there are more and more cases popping up daily which would never have happened (most of them) as the bully wouldn't have the courage in real life. They can hide in anonymity and behave as no one would expect.

    You will also find that some people are losing their ability to hold actual conversations let alone converse with one another using complete sentences. Watch a group of kids/teenagers/young adults at a coffee shop. You will notice they'll all be on their phones, tablets, laptops, etc. and barely speak a word to one another. They will sit at the same table and converse through electronic means rather than talk directly to the person sitting no more than 3 feet away from them.

    The introduction of the social media avenues has allowed our society to share things which would typically never be shared, to encourage actions which would not be allowed, and to make rash decisions without ever doing any of our own research. Now with that being said, we also have access to more information than ever before. We can research, verify, and validate just about anything. We are faced with an almost over-abundance of information and the access to it.
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    Oct 21 2013: most of us are hiding behind our pcs and afraid of going out and talk to people.because its hard for us to have face to face contacts with others.its much more easier to chat online.we have time to think about what we are gonna say.isnt it true?
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    Oct 21 2013: Absolutely, we have to face to our fears and insecurities... but it's another dimension of this problem. In this conversation, we just gave our "ascertainment" about that kind of social life, if we could call it that way.

    Also, jako sam srecna sto u tom pogledu nisam "usamljena" na ovom forumu. Sigurno smo moderatoru prava misterija,mozda misli da koristimo neki sifrovani recnik. :) ^^
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    Oct 20 2013: I agree internet is a double edged sword. But about social networks its more of show-biz. Why the need to say "I am bored" or "I am tired" as facebook status. Aren't their people around us to listen to us. Why can't we reach out to them, and share these feelings? Cause, we have isolated ourselves in a way. We cannot reach out and trust people present around us. Facebook could be used in good way. Think in this way, that people from different fields, diverse cultures come can connect. Now, it remains in our hands to how to use this connection. If we take some problem and try to find some solution to it via discussions on this platform, then its a good usage. But, sadly majority people use facebook only for trivial things. Things which we can share with people physically present around us.
    Personally I am part of some forums on facebook. Which provide help about design softwares, or which provide research papers to those who do not have it. But after a time I have found the interest of members is found to dwindle. Queries questions largely start to go unanswered. Compare it with forums like Cr4, or cite communities etc. These are found to be doing a real difference in terms of usage of social media purposefully. The time we spent sharing photos and mundane status updates, the same time egypt created a revolution in Tahrir square, all via the same medium.... So, blaming the platform or the internet is not the solution. Its we who need to change our attitude!!!
  • Oct 18 2013: As every coin has two faces
    and it is always how u look upon things
    The thing about social networking sites they are morely now used to share ones problem no one talks about the general affairs
    Its all getting personal
    Ya they often share some issues but never try to resolve it
    As base on the Internet
    its awesome to be connected with million
    but actually u r alone
    Instead of having group chat people should conduct rallies and social awareness
    THE ALL OF MY WORDS IS internet BRINGS AWARENESS but many just keep in mind ignoring inspite of Reacting....
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    Oct 18 2013: I believe Internet have bring, the common interest people together; take any e.g. the one who want to show off, the one who want to explore, the one who love music, the one who love creativity, even Positive and negative website have their own group. but understand like every moment is different every day the mood and interest level is different so internet gives us the freedom to choose, today though internet is used like invented wheel; but very soon it will be caged with price tag and various speed level authorization. just enjoy this phase. And Social is a norm which everybody want to but feel outcast by other interest group members.
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    Oct 18 2013: I think you have asked a good question. I think the internet has brought a huge range of communicational possibilities to people. It makes people more sociable in virtual world. That also possibly lures people to flee from their real world with some trouble. Some people feeling lonely in real life change their faces more easily on the internet than in real life to make friends. So if the virtual world and reality go with each other, people can benefit from the internet being more sociable.It's very complicated.
  • Oct 18 2013: The internet is just another tool, like any tool it is up to the user to determine it's usefulness. Like a hammer, you can use it to build a house or tear down a house.
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      Oct 18 2013: Yes.
      "If the only tool you have is a hammer, the world looks like something to hit at" (Abraham Maslow)
      • W T

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        Oct 20 2013: There is another quote I read in an Alzheimer's book......speaking of ineffective doctor's.......

        "When all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail"
    • W T

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      Oct 20 2013: Great point Keith.
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      Oct 21 2013: Keith, Joshua and Mary M.
      I am on the list of people who say the internet is a tool, and as I was reading the introduction to this conversation, the quote you provide came to my mind. I've heard it as..."If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything will look like a nail". In my perception.....this suggests tunnel vision.

      The facilitator of this discussion writes..."people using social networks have ironically made us more tunnel-visioned than ever."

      In my perception and experience, no one can "make" us tunnel-visioned. What we do on the internet...how we use the internet...who we choose to interact with on the internet are choices we make as individuals. Another choice is the on/off switch, which if used occasionally, provides time and energy to pursue other life adventures, thereby "balancing" our life experience:>)
      • Oct 21 2013: Thank you again Colleen, I was going to weight in on the misguided quote by the institutionalized Doctor Abraham Maslow but I figured you guys would see right through it and figure it out your self, and you did. Truth is a wonderful thing, when all the bullshit has settled, it is left standing like a mushroom that has pushed through and shining in the sunshine but only for those with eyes who see.
        My early social studies were filled with the likes of Maslow and Freud, I saw through them then and they are even less relevant today. Unfortunately there publications will last for generations and some people will read them as if they were true.
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    Oct 17 2013: Internet is just a tool to connect , communicate , explore and so on ...... I don't feel it can make anyone more or less social .....
    Let's forget Internet for a while ..
    We all live with in some social norms / boundaries , did that turned us social / unsocial to same extent ?
  • Oct 17 2013: Think the internet and technology has changed the way we socialize and the level of civility. We have bullying and trolling.

    There was a study done by the Rand corporation in the 1980's concerning the affect of e-mails and they found arguments were sharper and lasted longer because of the lack of emotional contact and personal contact.
    • W T

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      Oct 20 2013: So you could say that the internet has made us more confrontational?
      • Oct 20 2013: I think people instead of asking questions looking to see the other person's point of view, makes statements and becomes more obdurate. So yes, we have become more confrontational.
  • Nov 15 2013: I like QQ
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    Nov 15 2013: Its increased our mental sociability - the exchange of ideas. It's certainly great for introverts and people who don't like pubs, clubs and other crowded social areas. Physically, its making us fat and unfit unless we can pull our selves away and take the dog for a walk.
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    Nov 15 2013: There is a saying that you cant turn back time .
    There is one thing about the social networks that bring our thoughts to the world ,
    at least to ever who we allow to see .
    So in that sense there is a projection of our thinkings no matter how trivial they may seem to others .

    It allows us to hide away and be secure in our homes , coffee shops , or just in the park
    the point is there is no chance of immediate dismissal of our thoughts so we are safe for the time being .
    it takes us away from real personal face to face real flesh personal communication .

    It is almost like a fantasy you can be whoever you want to be , some people choose to lie and deceive the world
    some people dont and just air all their dirty laundry , forgetting you cannot erase something after you hit the send ,or
    submit button
  • Nov 15 2013: To make the Internet a positive influence on sociability, the user had to first have a firm grasp of an identity. The Internet is a great place to meet people, share ideas, and learn. It is not a place I discover who we are. That is done through introspection and loving relationships. Many social media users are negatively impacted by the Internet because they use their identities with their online selves, leading them to experience detachment in face-to-face interactions.
  • Nov 15 2013: I think that social media can help people discover and explore new ideas and through this, they may meet new and interesting people. It may also help people stay connected to friends who are very busy. However, I agree that often, social media can cause people to be more insular. It does depend on the person. One thing that I frequently observe is that people can be very unkind in what they post on-line. It is not uncommon to see snarky comments even here in TED conversations (and I admit that I too am sometimes tempted to hurl back an insult.) People seem to behave differently with this (relative) anonymity. I feel like most people would never say the things they say on-line at a dinner party. I have noticed other anti-social behavior as well on-line. I have one friend, (in particular )on FB who tends to consistently post very downer content about a past relationship ... it is a cry for help but I notice that most people do not respond and when I respond to show support with a phone call, there seems to be no improvement. This is very strange and it seems as if this person is using social media as more of a personal (venting/purging) diary ... I am not sure where the "social" part fits in there?? I had the unpleasant experience also of seeing my wife's FB friend ( an old friend from H.S. who was reconnecting on FB) basically implode with bizarre posts just prior to her suicide. We tried to reach out ... in person ... but again ... the posts seems more like a public diary and our attempts to connect in real life seemed futile. It is very tragic and unsettling when people use social media in destructive ways.
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    Nov 15 2013: I think it all depends on the individual and how they use social media. I like to think of social networks basically as online journals or diaries that everyone can see and comment on. That is why I think social networking tends to be a more reliable measure of who a person really is. Extroverts will use social media to become more extroverted while introverts will use it to become more introverted.

    I don't think the internet has necessarily made us less social but it's given us a new way to be social. We may not talk in person as much as we used too but we do communicate with one another more than we ever have. Take the invention of the telephone for example. Before the telephone was invented we pretty much had no other option but to communicate with one another face to face. After the telephone was invented you could just pick up the phone and call anyone you want (or anyone else that had a phone).
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    Nov 13 2013: The internet is our current unsophisticated technological rendering of an ages-old, atrophied, organic communication network.
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    Nov 12 2013: It is not the internet who has made us less social but some social networking sites. Like you said many are engrossed in things like statuses, profile pictures and so on, that they miss a family gathering, a face to face chat with the friends and the list goes on. With this they abandon their duties as a parent, as a son, as a student and as a member of the society. So, can we blame the internet, who is merely a tool? Is it not up to us to make a good use out of it?
  • Nov 12 2013: I believe the Internet has made us more globally social. The thing that some people tend to forget is the good feeling of interacting with others physically. We have lost our local sense of community in a way but have gained a strong sense of community globally in the way that i can go online and talk with people with the same interests as me and such. Social Media has become the biggest frontier for interacting with each other. There are 2 sides to every story.
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    Nov 12 2013: I think it has made us less social in many ways. We can go online and connect with people all over the world, so some people think there's less need to go out to connect with others. While I certainly am extremely grateful for the Internet as a whole, I have to admit it isolates us in many ways.
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    Nov 11 2013: Irony aside (considering that we are having this debate via an internet forum), I think that the internet has provided a more convenient way for us to communicate. For better or for worse, we now live in an extremely connected world, where we can communicate with people from all walks of life. By far, this is a great thing to be able to do, but of course there are consequences to such convenience.

    One of the biggest consequences is that this technology has isolated us while giving us the feeling that we have formed meaningful connections, relationships, and communities. In reality, we are sitting in front of a computer, communicating with people while hiding behind a computer screen, yet we feel as if there is a physical connection, relationship, or community that we are an integral part of.

    However, perhaps this feeling is all that we need, because the truth of the matter is that we really have formed meaningful connections and have developed complex relationships and communities in this virtual domain. For instance, I once invested a lot of my time playing a gamut of MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games), from "EverQuest" to "World of Warcraft." While the connections, relationships, and communities formed in-game were virtual by their very nature, they still left a lasting impression. Something that was indeed very real.

    By no means am I attempting to advocate the virtual domain over real life, but I do think that the internet has created a new means for us to socialize. Provided that we don't let it replace our real lives, I think that the internet has enhanced our ability to socialize.
  • Nov 11 2013: it's inevitable that when u get something you will lose another thing!
  • Nov 11 2013: I think it's made us less social. I read an article recently that talked about how currently (the highest number recorded actually) feel alone and unsocial than ever before. And today, we have the lowest percentage of people claiming they have a few really close friends who they can go to for comfort.

    Now a days, children aren't playing outside, we don't know the families that live in our neighborhood, and more of us are communicating mostly through the web rather than face to face. And yes I agree with your Facebook statement. So many people are more depressed after going on Facebook because they perceive their friends having more fun than them, which actually makes us even more anti-social and close-up. And because of Facebook and other social media, we are also trading in strong connections with a few people for lots of loose connections with many people. That may be more social but they aren't of quality.
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    Nov 10 2013: As you suggest, the internet does expand our communication horizons, but does so in a rather self-centered manner. We're 'getting out there' to a wider audience, but the content of our connections is basically one-sided and 'me'- oriented. On the other hand, it is an excellent medium for further developing your own perspectives and for receiving feedback from people who have no personal axe to grind with you.

    It's a hands-off, relatively reaction-free network providing a free communication exchange.

    It occurs to me that it may be our technological replacement for a system of communication which we may have formerly employed and perhaps lost, perhaps following the development of language and writing; some form of subconscious empathy between all entities on the planet and perhaps even beyond.
  • Nov 10 2013: keep it up.
  • Nov 9 2013: Although the internet specifically social media has helped expand the way we can socialize i believe it has somewhat ruined having a good old catch up with somebody. its very easy to "Stalk" one of your friends and go through their photos and statuses to get fully up to date with what they have been up to. So when it comes to actually meeting a friend you have not seen in a while for a meal and a catch up it sometimes does feel awkward if that makes sense.
    Obviously there are the positives such as if a friend has moved away its easy to keep in touch etc. In general i guess the internet has opened up plenty of doors for socializing but it has taken over many peoples lives too, like you have mentioned people getting lonely i believe its become an addiction and people crave attention over the internet.
    However nothing beats a good old traditional get together face to face!
  • Nov 8 2013: In my opinion, I think Internet does not make us less social, that is actually due to the way we use it. I'll take myself as an example. At the first time I used my facebook account, I thought it was helpful to help me make friends with other students at my new high school. I also tried to make friends in real life, but it seemed that it was not enough, that was reason why I thought Facebook would help me. However, I was wrong. I was deep to start conversations with new people, some of those conversations seemed very silly when I look back. They did not reflect my real person. With some people, I thought I was close to them, but in real life, it was very hard to start a conversation with them. I was stil alone with some social relationships. After first days at my school, now, all of my close friends, none of them I knew from social network. And I changed my way to use social network too, only use it to communicate with people I know in real life now, sometimes with strangers if necessary. For example, sometimes I needed some information about some scholarships, I asked experienced students, many of them I did not know them. That is also an intance for how the Internet make me more social. In short, how much the Internet affects us, it depends on the users. By the way, your topic is interesting!
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    Nov 7 2013: Tiger, this is a great idea for a conversation. I'm a proponent of face-to-face connectivity with my friends, colleagues and customers. However, I rely on the internet as my "great equalizer." It's where I experiment with new thoughts and ideas, as well as draw inspiration from reading posts like yours on TED.

    I also use online as a replacement to business cards. For the first time, I'm able to stay informed where hundreds of my business colleagues, high school friends and lost neighbors live. This isn't a replacement for personal face time. It helps me maximize my ability to connect personally when we're in the same continent, state or city.

    One of my colleagues who works in the SF Bay area let me know that they do more face-to-face meetings in their tech sector than I do. I happen to use an online web conferencing tool with a webcam and white board for some of my meetings. She almost never does virtual meetings, even though she works with teams that developed applications for social media sites and online networking.

    I also avoid filtering my news as I want to know what's really happening rather than live in a little thought bubble. Hearing others who share my same opinion is like hearing an echo to me.

    Thanks for starting this! I'm going to ask this question at my lunch meeting with my colleagues at work.
  • Nov 4 2013: This question is one that will be debated greatly in the next couple of years, I think.

    The Inter-web, like, any spiders creation, is a trap, so, although many of us are caught up in it, that's where we actually are I think, "Caught", not necessarily, TRULY socialising.

    People are hiding behind keyboards, more than using them to actually interact with their counterparts. Yes, ofcourse, many people have met and have interacted, beyond the keyboard ... but, is that what they REALLY, are doing?
    ... or, again, is it just a means of attention seeking, to prove that they are "Popular & Likeable".

    The other aspect of this question, is the level of abuse people give each other on website forums, facebook, for sure, has more instances of abusive interaction, than people believe. Some are genuinely, petty, but, when your place of interaction, has a block button, how social can we really, actually being ???

    The real world avails no such option, you may get into a scrap, or, a verbal dispute, but, that, to me, is actual social interaction, that, cannot be dismissed at the drop of a button.

    I also agree that, yes, many are using it as, their means to gain some sense of empathy for their personal pain/loneliness, a dangerous thing, because of the people who may then use that negatively, but, also because it shows a certain lack of self-worth, to people who may not care about your issues that much.

    In exposing your inner pain, there is and will never be, anything better than having the person there with you, to share and hopefully help !!!

    Not that people shouldn't be open about their issues, but, doing so with someone, in person, is what socialising is about.

    It's very cold, the way we seem to now deem, our being, socially active now ....

    I actually find it all, somewhat worrying, when people are not even looking around at each other, but are walking with their heads, basically, inside their phones.

    However, there's no going back now, it would seem, sadly.
  • Nov 3 2013: i think that Internet makes people more independent in aspect of a place of a conversation. i.e. you don't need to wait for weeks to get an answer from your esse. you can talk with whom you want from the place where you are at the moment of your wish uprised. so being a "social" nowadays is just to be keep in touch. And if the question is in: do we need somebody near us to speak, to touch or smth else-of course we are getting less "social"..
  • Nov 3 2013: This is a difficult topic for me to side with because I met my now husband on a social networking site almost 8 years ago, at that time, we were pen pals, and it was such an incredible way to communicate with someone on the other side of the world that had a similar love affair with words. However, on the other side, I have seen how my friends, and even myself are completely attached to their phones more than 50% of their days...work, pleasure, curiosity...boredom. I think back to the 90's when I was a teenager and I am envious of the freedom we had back then, aside from television we had no unnatural distractions. I also feel that my intense attention deficit and inability to finish a book as easily as I used to devour them in the past is largely correlated to my constant contact with the web. I'm torn, I would say that we need to limit the new generation who has no recollection of a life without, that way we avoid the severe consequences like anti-social behaviour.
  • Nov 1 2013: I used to have friends that would sit and enjoy a ball game together. Now that so much attention is put towards their mobile phones and their facebook maintenance, I no longer feel like their companionship is worthwhile. Even requesting their attention for short periods at a time feels like a useless and somewhat humiliating endeavor.

    Now that people are usually in more than one place at a time I feel like they are never truly present. Not to mention they allow themselves constant stimulation and are no longer able to deal with boredom which in turn leads to a more aggressive and impatient attitude.

    I feel like we're losing more than we gain.
  • Nov 1 2013: Both!
    - 'More' in the term of quantity (that means the amount / the frequency of the connections).
    - 'Less' in the term of quality (the depth).

    So let's keep it balanced.
  • Oct 31 2013: I think the internet has certainly made us less social.....It constantly engages our attention, makes us oblivious of others around us. I have been in crowded places(eg. Restaurants, beaches...) and seen so many of the youngsters glued to the net on their mobiles/laptops/i pads even in the so called "company" of their friends! How can you claim to connect socially across the world wide web and cant conduct a decent conversation with the person next to you? This net connect is not true social behaviour in that it thrives in an impersonal world of anonymous far flung identities....
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    Oct 31 2013: A bit of both
    there may be more social transactions although many are trivial.
    I suggest quality of social engage ment via the internet is also a mix of Better and worse

    a video call is better than a phone call.

    on the whole better.

    but we could do better by not letting all the attention to small screens reduce the quantity and quality of face to face interactions.
  • Oct 29 2013: As a world culture, the internet has opened doors that were never possible before. And used responsibly, it is a powerful tool.

    For most people, especially those just growing up with the internet and social media as the norm, I agree with you, it has made us less social. Individuals are looking for reaction and feedback based on what they post, not real interaction or socialization. Essentially, people want to think others are paying attention, but not truly interact. That is a sad state of affairs.
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    Oct 28 2013: Internet hasn't made us more or less social, it's actually upto the person how he chooses to use it. Definitely, it has opened up new opportunities to interact with people living thousands of miles away but then it's just interaction, and doesn't make us more social or less social. It's a way of communicating ideas across the world. Social networking sites do bring people closer, but only virtually. Thousands of friends on SNS can't replace the physical presence of few close friends you can hangout with or spend quality time with.
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    Oct 28 2013: Both. On the quantitative front, moreso, but information lacks quality. We need intimacy, the energetic exchange between two or more human beings occupying the same physical space. It blows my mind the possibilities of being able to reach as many people as I via the internet, it is certainly one of the new wonders of the world. But the quality lacks. At best, we have YouTube, I suppose, or other ways of communicating via video. That shows more information than mere text, but it's still merely information. Numbers may not lie, but they never tell the whole story.

    The next step is to figure out a way to balance out the qualitative aspect of socializing; without depth, breadth is spread too thin. And to have quality suffer in favor of quantity is not sustainable. A lot of people are going to lose their shit, basically. It's actually for this reason that I raise an eyebrow to online dating, but if used correctly, it could be a decent opportunity. Using it as a launchingpad to meet people, that is.

    There is absolutely no substitute to human contact and human touch. So if we can still maintain those things, I think we'll be fine.

    As for the loneliness aspect, that's something we need to approach from a totally different angle, I think. It's a more complicated beast than simply having friends, either online or in person. I'm currently exploring that, so I'll share ideas when they come.
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    Oct 27 2013: After giving your thoughts a little time to sink in; I started wondering if the people you write about, the people reaching out for acceptance, cry-for-help statuses and so on, are maybe just exposing their true selves and Facebook is making it easier. WIthout Facebook (or other social media) would they maybe be wearing a cry-for-help t shirt or reaching out for acceptance by following along with the crowd that accepts them or creating the best physical profile through plastic surgery.
    I think a lot of good has come about as well. It seems there are more and more legitiment resources for free education being made available, more and more collaborative ideas being tossed around. The creative engineers who place ideas out there and allow the power of the creative many to improve upon them. I sometimes think we are just learning the true power of the internet.
    All in all I don't think the internet will change people. People are who they are and they will use the internet in a fashion consistent with who they are.
  • Oct 27 2013: I don't believe that the internet has caused us to be more antisocial or reduce the face to face tiime at all. People don't get to spend time with friends most of the time because life is much more demanding now than it was 20 years ago.

    I have a schedule packed full of things to do all the time. Families these days usually have two people working in a household to make it by. Working around two schedules can be hard to find timefor each other. Now consider all your friends in the same boat. Just to hangout with another couple and do face time could require 4 people to mach schedules for one meet.

    There are more ways to keep in touch now than there ever have been in the past. Of course this is when a teenagers parent chimes in and makes the comment that teens are always on there phones even when hangingout together. Most likely they are still doing something together and you are just unaware of it. They could all be reading an update one of there other friends just posted. Maybe they are talking with a different friend that didn't make it. Maybe they are filling in someone not there
  • Oct 27 2013: The great thing about the internet is it allows people of like minds and ideas to find one another in a sea of mediocrity...

    The down side is the same thing. Since many people who have lunitic ideas get to find other loons like themselves. See: Alex jones for instance.

    The internet as it became a mass phenomenon reflects the overwhelming ignorance of mankind. As the internet became more mainstream people became even more sectarian because now they could link up with people like themselves online.

    The reality is the internet allows kind of 'assortive mating' of minds that never existed in the past. This is good for the sane and intelligent, since most of us are surrounded by dull people in our families and communities. The problem is this also allows the reverse: The insane and ignorant to organize around their ignorance and insanity.

    Let's be honest, many people flock to sites like TED because they can't get some higher level of intelligent stimulation from those around them.
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    Oct 27 2013: In my view: internet has increased virtual socialization and caused decrease of physical or face to face socialization. since both are very important, its upon the user to create a balance between both. If people learn to convert virtual socialization into physical socialization that will be good.
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    Oct 27 2013: I think you make some very interesting points I hadn't thought about before. I don't know if the internet has made us more social, I think it has obviously given us more avenues to become social. To some degree I think it allows people to discuss things that they normally wouldn't discuss. At least when there is a feeling of anonymity involved. I find your thoughts on the internet making us more lonely are very interesting.
  • Oct 27 2013: I think that it's making us less social. Although we use Facebook for example, to talk to our friends, there is much more to do. A lot of people play games, watch movies etc. And that's making us anti-social. I'm not saying that it's a bad way of spending time but it would be much better if we played games or watched movies with our friends. About this Facebook thing, I think it became very weird that people post there every little thing. People have more courage to write something. They prefer to share their thoughts on Facebook wall rather than somewhere in a cafe, talking to their friends. Everyone has memories. What's creating them? Only real way of spending time... not the Internet. However, it's still a big improvement in our lives. We can get informations from the Internet, we can search for new things, plan our holiday. It helps everyone who's studying and many many other.
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    Oct 26 2013: How do we understand the word ,"social?" Centuries ago, it's definition was different as it is today. he new generation are content with their kind of sociability today. I am in my 40's and uses the internet a lot, has gained friends from all over the world but still, nothing can compare to a real, physical, eye-to-eye communication.
  • Oct 25 2013: I agree with you. I can see this happening a lot in Brazil. Everybody considers the internet an awesome environment to learn and to understand new ideas, but we've lost depth. At least here, people see what they want to see about some subject, without getting any further in how that works or these kinds of things. They understand the concepts, but they do not understand how it was developed to get there. They cannot explain things such as the previous generation could.

    And this happens with every subject you can imagine. There is the people who invest their times on submerging themselves into a whole new culture, just to be accepted by who likes it. Just to become part of a social identity.

    In other words, people need acceptance. It always happened. The way we dress, the tendences we follow, the kitten culture and stuff. I do not know if it is prejudicial, but I can see that most of Facebook users are really on a quest for attention.

    And I think this is kind of sad. If you stop to think, there isn't such thing as attention on the internet, I mean, there is the "like" you give to a certain person, but that does not really mean anything. When a person is talking to you on the Facebook chat, she is also doing a bunch of other things.

    Afterall, nobody gets the attention they want.
  • Oct 25 2013: good day

    could i talking with you to improve my language?

  • Oct 25 2013: A good news is not a news, a bad news is a news. Internet yes of course we know its a blessing for us. But in spite of some facts its also has negative affect. Its makes the world smaller we all know that. we can easily contact with each other easily. As for teenager they use internet maximum in a negative way. like for example they watch Blue film, porn. Its also damage their mind. So i believe there need some certain rules and regulation over internet.
  • Oct 24 2013: I think internet, specially social media, has allowed us to connect to more people than we used to. However being connected to them doesn't necessarily means that we are more sociable.
    To be really sociable you need to engage and interact with people, you need to have a response to your actions and this is not always the case when we are being "social" through internet.
    Making endless post about your life, your interest, what you're doing, doesn't mean you are becoming more social, it just means you are sharing more.
  • Oct 24 2013: internet for me is invaluable! its a very huge platform to learn various things-like it enhance or updatesmy medical education on the other hand ,i can travel in any part of the world, i can learn so many good receipes or ,can chat with any distant friend.learning and enjoying music on one hand,or viewing medical lectures on the other hand.reading news of india and abroad anywhere, and ant time.
    i connect with my children far away in no time without any expenses. we as house wives, not able to roam alone , enjoy life throuh internet. .it all depends on u how u utilise internet.
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    Oct 23 2013: While I'm not sure how we would go about measuring what impact the internet has had on individual behavior, so as to determine whether it has had a positive or negative effect from a psychological perspective, there is no denying that it has made a notable difference in millions of people's lives. It seems to me that the only way of studying its effects are in aggregate, by focusing on sociological changes rather than the more minute psychological ones that you have highlighted.

    I think that we should be careful in ascribing value to things like 'Internet Freedom' for instance, because while allowing free access to information may be best for individuals, it also poses a threat to the future of democracy as a whole. You can watch Evgeny Morozov's brilliant explanation of why this is the case here: http://iai.tv/video/the-net-delusion
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    Oct 21 2013: Interesting question.
    I think internet has changed our social structure to a great extent. In that changed structure it has made us more social.
    In this new social structure we have become part of media and our pictures, videos, audios have largely replaced gossips, story telling, and physical interactions like shrugs, hand holding, kisses, hugs or just talking with eyes.
    Applications like facebook, instagram or tweets redefined the old idea of privacy.
    I find the argument that we have become more lonely or insular because of internet debatable. We have been growing progressively private since at least 17th century when Hugo Grotius explained it as social alienation. That alienation is pervasive in our social contracts, relationships, consumerism and elitism. Internet could, at best, be seen as a facilitator of that trend.
    But it will be unjust if we ignore the power and reach of the internet and social media. It was seen to make possible a whole social-political revolution in an otherwise ultra-conservative part of the world recently.
    You can cut an apple or a throat with a knife. It will be silly to hold the knife responsible for the act.
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    Oct 21 2013: The internet has created a kind of parallel universe. Some have become addicted to the net and have shrinked in terms of one-on-one social interactions; we've got those who are hardly anywhere they should be (physically) because they are always tapping on their phones. We've got those who overestimate the "Like" button. "like" our Facebook page on "Catch Joseph Kony" and the problems of child soldiers in Africa will be 'solved'.
    Social media also provides anonymity for paedophiles and fraudsters, and all sorts of criminal minds; social media could allow shallow relationships (such that are lacking in commitment and sacrifice)..

    Social media is a good thing; but any good thing can turn bad, even destructive or injurious, if not wisely used.
    Everyday we make choices that defines us. Social media has made some of us more socially intergrated; it has also made some of us anti-social.
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    Oct 20 2013: Great Question...

    I guess it depends on how and why you use the internet? Which and how many social platforms you use? What you use them for, and where you are in the "internet up-take/participation cycle" and the devices you use to connect to the net.

    If too much of a good thing is not good for us... and if the internet is "that good thing", then maybe too much of it might not be good for us... While on the one hand it has expanded the opportunity for personal expression and communication; on the other there is the danger of erosion of social interaction in the real-world; in varying shades depending on the individual.

    I think it's al about striking a balance between the time a person spends in the www-world and the real-world - I think that in order to have interesting things to share with the world, you have to spend time in the world, doing things that you find interesting.

    In my world and the way I work at the moment, the balance between how much time I spend online and the amount of time I spend in the world is a two-fold oscillating cycle and in those cycles there is time for me to spend time on my own, and be alone with my thoughts.
  • Oct 20 2013: Yes I agree, often i experience alot of 'attention seeking' statuses on my facebook newsfeed. In my opinion, the internet in particular social media, have become avenues in which we can express ourselves which can often turn very addictive, due to the overload of interaction in chat rooms etc. Because this interaction can be done through a simple 'like or comment' it gives the reciever a type of social reward that encourages them to sit down at the computer more often. This is detrimental to health as problems such as obesity and breakdown of intimate relationships, outside of the internet. Healthy social relationships reward and encourage an individual to make the best of themselves, and so far the social media hasn't had that much of a positive impact on this basis.
  • Oct 20 2013: More social. Because people that would be too shy in person are able to socialise through the web.
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    Oct 20 2013: I agree that internet makes a lot of possibilities to connect others. There is a lot of social networks,some closed networks for some profiles (scientist, artist etc.)You can combine your interests, and find plenty of others and to sharing it with them... but this way is making artificially social.
    The internet is good way to make easier the human contact, but if you insist on social, you can't count just on it. It is like you have some membrane around and it makes you feel and think you are social, and you are not.You do not have touch with others, you do not listen them, watch them.... The main feature of the sociality is direct human contact.
    • Oct 20 2013: Internet is supposed to make us interconnect. But is that always the primary agenda?

      For example, Facebook:

      I sometimes feel that Facebook has become a platform for self-marketing, rather than socializing- people create a virtual avatar (or membrane?) to promote themselves in the best possible light, which reveals an interesting primordial human trait: vanity.

      Also, pozdrav :-)
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    Gord G

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    Oct 20 2013: I think the web allows us to interact with more people. So in the strict literal sense, yes it makes us more social. But it's an artificial sense of connection, similar to the sense of shared experience vicariously absorbed through media.

    Which came first the viewer or the viewed?

    What I find curious is ... it seems like an instantaneous analogue response. That's to say, individuals removed from our everyday experience that still persist in daily updates, lack the temporal limitations of reality. Their lives become disembodied narratives we construct to complete our image of ourselves.

    Why else would it be so awkward to meet the silent majority of Facebook friends that populate our padded list?
  • Oct 18 2013: It's like wearing glasses. Your whole personality changes.

    I like to write, to express opines. When I lie, and I do lie often,
    I try to make it funny or disturbing, but seldom personal.

    My pet peeve is that the monitors want to protect the feelings
    of the speakers. So when I criticize a popular speaker, and
    break the unwritten rule of "do not touch", I get hammered.
    But, I know you cannot win them all. Go figure.
    • W T

      • +1
      Oct 20 2013: Perhaps I can help you with the lying.......here, I used this with my kids when they were little:


      Now, as to your getting "hammered"........

      Could it be because you are time and again hitting the "nail on the head"?

      We all have to bear our crosses huh Frank?

      Nice talking to you.
      • Oct 20 2013: Mary, that was funny and an excellent response.

        "Liar, Liar, pants on fire..." I was thinking, just yesterday, that
        I needed to put U-Tube on my Apps. I have this new Win8
        Microsoft Operating System, and I am still trying to figure it out.

        I never Tweet, or use Facebook. I Think my daughter may have
        registered me with one or both, but I just ignore them.

        I have a multitude of relatives and friends to email, and of course TED,
        which I find satisfying to watch Speakers and as the moderator has labeled
        me, to "Chime In" on other's ongoing conversations. I suppose "I Bad".

        Most of my time is spent writing scathing blogs to the NY Times and to the
        UK's Guardian, about US Politics and the NSA, etc. I never say boo about
        the UK. We have enough problems to solve right here in the US.

        My only complaint with the internet is that there doesn't seem to be many
        "Researchers" looking under the carpet for clues to our nation's problems.
        There are lots and lots of pundits/journalists (Talking Heads) who offer opines
        on a subject, but they never provide ant real research to back anything up.
        But, I am going off topic quickly here, sorry.

        Mary, I like your conversations best. If you can reach your back, give it
        a pat from me.
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    Oct 18 2013: All technology amplifies what is going on in the minds of people.
    If you are lonely or going through a bad patch, you will experience internet technology as amplifying your sense of loneliness and despair.
    If your life is currently bright, then you will experience that same internet technology as socially uplifting with friends world-wide.
  • Oct 18 2013: The internet indeed has made the world seem smaller as one can find and reach out to people from many different places, including other countries.
    Humans being social creatures, most of us can't help with our instincts to live for others as a major component of our purpose of life.
    We have become more and less social due to the advent of the internet.
    We have become more social as we are now able to interact with more individuals, both in the virtual and real world.
    We also have become less social, because "others" have become more dispensable, in the sense that when we meet incompatible people online, it's okay to shrug the experience off and move on because finding someone else is so simple when there's an unsurmountable number of people to connect to out there. The insouciant attitude towards "others" also often has been carried over to real life situations as well, even though the people we meet frequently in real life don't vary much.
  • Oct 17 2013: Social media has made people less social. I know cases where 2 people live not more than 30mn away from each other communicating on Facebook when they could easily pass each other a phone call, or even meet up somewhere to talk. It seems to be easier for this generation of humans to communicate behind a screen, than it is face to face. People rely more on the internet for friendships than real life. Their minds are empty and they generally have nothing to talk about other than what's in front of them.
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    Oct 16 2013: I don't think the internet has made us more or less social. Humans have always been social creatures. It has definitely changed the landscape and increased outlets for social discourse. If anything it has made us less insular. Before the internet our social reach was limited. Now we can connect with cultures all across the world.

    Comparing our society today to what it was 50 years ago may give you some insights. We could not have gotten any worse. If you really believe we were better off during the 50's I challenge you to do some research.

    There may be situations where social media is used in negative ways. That doesn't mean the internet is negative influence in general. The focus on the individual has been a problem for hundreds, if not thousands, of years in our society. This is not something modern culture has generated.

    Most of our social problems have been with us for a very long time.