TED Conversations

Jim Moonan

Owner/Artistic Director, NorthWind Education


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Are we over-socialized or under-socialized? Is it possible that we could be both?

Has social media and technology such as email, twitter, digital photography and smart phones Created a false sense of social connection?

I think socialization has in many respects been supplanted by "virtual" socialization.

What are the pros and cons of virtual socialization? Who benefits from it and what are its limitations?

What are the differences between virtual socialization and the traditional form of socialization (two or more people interacting on a personal basis)?


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    Aug 23 2011: I think that socializing is a personal experience. Some people are shy and some people are outgoing. It is logical that shy people will have a different standard for socialization than outgoing people will. The internet is splitting these two groups into four;

    real-shy / virtually-shy
    real-shy / virtually-outgoing
    really-outgoing / virtually-outgoing

    I know enough people that I could categorize in each of these groups and you might too. All of these people will use resources differently and develop different definitions for socializing. It's natural diversity.

    An interesting point is that if I met someone in person I would probably be able to categorize them sooner or later. However, if I only interacted with them "virtually", I would be missing a lot of data as far as the "real" side of things goes; having never witnessed the way they carry themselves, their tone of voice, the way they dress... There is no question that you get a lot more out of being with people physically.

    Furthermore I don't think that it can be said that virtual versus real communication is good or bad. Virtual communication is but a phenotype of the culture of this age. Some will take advantage and some won't. It's natural selection.

    I conclude that we are not over or under socialized, but the means for socialization has been expanding in the last few decades because of the idea of globalization and the advent of networking. The world is changing.

    I think it's all a result of human nature... like the stock market, or toothpaste, or recycling! My words to you Jim; Just go with it!
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      Aug 23 2011: I think that technology is having an increasing influence over all aspects of our lives. Not so sure I want to "just go with it" in respect to what is and is not social interaction!

      Because I've gotten a lot of push-back in this conversation about my views on what is and is not "socialization" I went back to the dictionary last night. Here is what I found:

      "The process By which a human being beginning at infancy acquires the habits, beliefs and accumulated knowledge of society."

      I stand corrected. I had actually formulated my own definition for socialization - but that doesn't make my definition valid!! I/we can't just re-define something to suit my/our own paradigms. Social media such as
      twitter, Facebook, etc. Is obviously a valid way of remaining socialized in modern societies. I have said earlier in this conversation that TED is not a social experience for me - but thinking again, I now know that it is. One of the most satisfying aspects of engaging in conversations here is to meet others from around the world who are thinking about the same things as me.

      Art forms like music also have a social aspect to them that I did not really appreciate until now.

      What I suppose concerns me about some social media is that it is superficial- but that happens in real life too. I can't just dismiss it as being "beneath" me simply because I find it boring, etc. It is what it is.
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      Aug 23 2011: Btw Mathieu - I don't think your group analysis as it applies to cyber-socialization tells us much. There are so many other influencing factors.
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        Aug 25 2011: Agreed. However my intent was not to inform but to socialize...
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          Aug 25 2011: OK!! Now I'm feeling socially awkward....

          I really liked your explanation of how a musician needs to socialize with other musician in order to create music. I had overlooked that. Thanks
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          Aug 25 2011: nice trap you had there, bro

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