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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    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.

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