A simple example about socialization

I write a lot on this blog about facebook and the effect of new media on old patterns of socialization are (see here, here, here). Sometimes though reasoning is just a bother and abstractions don’t really speak to us. So, I think I can provide an example that gets at many of my concerns all at once.

I recently met a woman who used to keep a detailed notebook of when people’s birthdays were. She would make sure to call or send a letter to the person when the time rolled around, and she used this as a way to distinguish herself from others who didn’t remember these birthdays. More importantly, she used here memory and attention to detail in a way that allowed her to demonstrate how she valued other people, and her message, as far as I can tell, was quite potent. She was willing to take the time to wish someone well on their birthday.

This was before facebook, and it doesn’t matter that she doesn’t use facebook, because her gesture is lost. Everyone knows birthdays, and respond appropriately (or not). And so one of her skills, her WAY of expressing value to those around her, was denied to her.

This is the sort of thing that troubles me about new media. It seems to destroy our language of value, and EVEN IF, on net, it creates more avenues for social expression than it destroys (which I don’t think it does), it still yanks the rug out from under some people who have, during the course of their path to maturity, created ways of communing with those around them. What should we say to these people?


3 Responses to “A simple example about socialization”

  1. 1 grahamsoc
    August 29, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    I can’t answer the question you posed “what should we say to people who have lost their way of communing with people around them.”

    But as someone who sees humans as having a tremendous amount of power over the technology imposed into their lives, I am confident that those people will create new ways of having meaningful interaction.


    • 2 questionbeggar
      August 29, 2010 at 9:43 pm

      You’re right, I didn’t mean to make things sound so dramatic. Of course people will invent new ways of interacting with other people, but there is still some harm done. If someone takes my bike, ill probably be able to get another one someday, but for the time I don’t have it, I have to walk.

      The person in my story got on facebook, and I’m sure she’ll find ways of using it to create new friendships etc., but until she does, her social world is slightly damaged.

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