Social networking tools as they exist today are changing how we think, work, learn and live. As during the last great split from the normative causalities of daily life illustrated during the Industrial Revolution, the entire template for daily living has been scrapped and replaced with a newly forming organic prototype. What is happening today is just the beginning of the new standard that will lead to ways of discovering and interacting with both information and each other in ways never imagined. The fading boundaries of our suddenly very outdated past lives means we are re-writing social rules. In other words, many of the norms and mores that once were – simply no longer apply.
Supporters look on with excitement, as we are no longer limited to or rely upon people in our neighborhood or the workplace to provide the interaction we crave. Some argue that we have shifted from the role of passive consumer to active participant, getting our news and information by which we establish our morals and social guidelines through a network of our creation. What information we chose to forward to others, the individual super structure for living we acquire, process and re-construct in our own image, tells others about just who we are. Most importantly, the long-reaching facilities to amplify these images, ideals and values has never been allotted to us before. By extension, we are more literate, more engaged and more connected than at any other point in human history. Above all else, we are more open to generating new relationships, and more aware of the world around us.
Skeptics abound as well. Many describe social networking and dwindling our attention spans to almost zero, as well as drastically eroding our very identities. Some attribute the social networking template to fleeting relationships and a dehumanized sense of community, as our ability to empathize and communicate with our fellow human beings in the non-virtual world quickly becomes an endangered ability. Social skills in general are being damaged beyond repair and people no longer have the ability to simply speak with one another, and share life experiences in way that does not include a blog, a wall, or a 130-character blurb. In short, we are losing the depth of our humanity, our souls a mile wide and an inch deep, shallow and without profundity.
Regardless of one’s stance on social networking, the debate over whether we are being changed for the better or worse is a moot point. It is here and it is shaping our lives. Whether willing or not, we are all participants in quantum shift in human existence the likes of which happens every few hundred years. Understanding its effects, positive or negative, is all we can attempt to do.
The rest is simply beyond our means of control.