Mike Elgan raised an interesting issue on his Google Plus account recently. See below:

Our waiter at a side walk restaurant in Florence last night (I don’t recall his name, sadly), believes that social networks are making us all less social. He said that over his years as a waiter, people have become more obsessed with checking their social networking feeds and less polite. When they come into the restaurant, the first thing they say is: “do you have WiFi?,” rather than “hello.” Then they sit there with their faces in their phones instead of talking. Is it true? Do social networks make us less social?


The post  received over 165 plusses and 80 comments, demonstrating how the issue is very interesting to people.

I think the definition of being social has to be revised, meaning that the offline and online aspects of this activity have to be merged. Is somebody who is very socially active online not a sociable person?
Probably yes, within the current most accepted definition.

Being social still means (generally) being keen to engage in human interactions meaning “face to face” interactions with other individuals. Ergo, the example that the waiter in Florence brings up is absolutely valid.
On the other hand, asking if a bar or restaurant has wi-fi is not necessarily related to the need of performing social networking but to the need that individuals have to assume information.

Many of the technological breakthroughs of the past 15 years have drastically changed the way people interact. Social networking is only one of them.  All technological developments that have brought a change in the way information is both distributed and searched  for have changed the way people communicate and consequently interact. I remember that already 15 years ago people would complain that SMSs were ruining human interactions because they were “taking the tone of a sentence out of human interactions” in comparison to a phone call.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a strong advocate for the use of social media as a networking mean in order to lead to further human interactions and I don’t see social networking as an end. Nevertheless , this is how information and its technological changes shape us. It is an irrevocable process which evolves together with us.
Does social networking makes us less social? In a way, yes but more precisely it is the way we process and gather information that shapes the way human interactions evolve.
Thanks to @obhi for flagging me Elgan’s G+ post.

One thought on “Does social networking make us less social?

  1. Doug Manning says:

    78% of Under-30’s in the PopSavvy game say that “social media is making us less social.” However, if they had asked the same question in the positive, “Is social media making us MORE social?”, I’ll bet those same Under-30s would still agree. Social media isn’t inherently anything. It is whatever we make it. Some people use it to connect with loved ones when they are far away. Others use it to avoid dealing with whatever is right in front of them. Social media is not the problem. We are the problem.

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