the similarity between news and sociality

There’s a great article in the WSJ, which, oddly, I read in hard copy form.

The article is basically about how online networking is a pale imitation of sociality. This is a point I’ve made many times on this blog, but this is a nice variation on it.

I’ve talked about how people, because they get their news from sources that they choose, never have to confront any news they don’t like. They don’t have to sit through a segment on Katrina damage to see the segment on progress in Iraq. This argument works with social interactions as well. The more that we are just a phone call or text away from our friends, the less we have time for other people. The author of the article I referenced has a great example of how he was waiting to get into his gym early in the morning, and ended up having to wait in the vestibule with four other strangers. Normally, I would think, this would be a paradigm social situation; a chance to see what other people are like and find out weird they are. But, as the author explains, everyone pulled out their blackberries or other networking device. The social focus of these people immediately jumped elsewhere.

In the information economy, how will we make friends or even be forced to learn about the person living one door over or standing two feet from us? We will be in total control of our social world, and that will be a great loss.


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