TED Conversations

Tiger Flynn

General Manager, Red Stag Management

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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 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)
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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"
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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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