TED Conversations

Jim Moonan

Owner/Artistic Director, NorthWind Education

TEDCRED 50+

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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 21 2011: Jim, a great question!

    I work in a College where I am surrounded by students who cyber-socialise all the time. This area is now an important part of my subject area/industry that I have to get involved and I promote it for those purposes.

    Now, don't get me wrong the virtual socialising has its advantages - it is communication after all. But what i have seemed to notice is as this form of communication increases, the traditional form does seem strained, as if we are losing the etiquette of real social connection. The problem with this is that we are now getting to the stage where some are choosing one over the other.

    Is it that we can perhaps get away with more (negative comments,ete etc) or have we just become lazy due to the ease of new technologies ( try asking a student to 'read' an actual textbook!!!). In saying that , there are folk who seem to gain confidence from this cyber socialising that they bring to real situations, and do very well for themselves.
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      Aug 21 2011: I realize I may suffer the wrath of those who swear that every piece of social media is great, but I think so much of it is narcissism. Also so much of it is anonymous. I was at dinner the other night with a friend who said there is now a site called rateyourprofessor.com. It's ridiculous!! I am generalizing I know, but I don't think I'm misrepresenting the current state of social media when I say it is quasi-socialization or faux socialization. Virtual seems to equal "anything goes". I don't like it!!

      I do love the benefits that social media give us. The expanded opportunities to learn and express ourselves, the ability to keep family close, etc. but I think so many people misuse it, abuse it in some cases, and in some cases actually use it to replace the true social activity of community, caring, expanding understanding, etc.
      I am not much of a socializer. Never really got the hang of it. I'm uneasy at large gatherings of strangers and acquaintances like weddings, parties and the like. TED conversations have been a real help to me in so many ways. There is no small talk. So much of social media seems to be exactly that - small talk.

      On a side note, as you said – the social etiquette involved in practicing virtual or cyber socialization leaves a lot to be desired. It’s one of the most maddening things about the technology – so many slavishly attach themselves to every new gadget and every new app.

      John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

      I think he wouldn’t mind my tweaking it a bit: “Life is what happens while you’re busy texting, tweeting and posting.”
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        Aug 25 2011: If I were you, I would make that into a t-shirt before someone else does!

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