Art Carden  

Social TV: Social Media Creates More Weak Ties

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Earlier today, I heard a bit on the radio that was of the standard "screen time is destroying kids' minds and making them less social and..." form. Online social norms are still evolving, but I really doubt screens are making us less social.

Here's one data point. Professional wrestling is one of my vices, and when I get to watch, the experience is magnified by real-time online discussions. In particular, I contribute periodically to discussions in the SquaredCircle subreddit. It might seem a bit vapid to enjoy discussions with other pro wrestling enthusiasts, but it really enhances the experience. And not that long ago, there was a Kickstarter or Gofundme campaign for one of the sub's regulars who is dealing with medical bills. I'm sure that wasn't the first time participants in a subreddit or online forum have gotten together to help someone.

Is a world of screens making us less social? I doubt it: it's most likely changing the ways in which we're social with, I suspect, an exponential increase in the number of weak ties that hold people together.


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COMMENTS (3 to date)
mark writes:

Are we less social? The question really is are we less trusting. I think the answer is yes but it is debatable. This is Econlog and I don't have any statistics so I may be wrong. Personally, I would rather live in a more trusting society that was less connected then the opposite. The two go together but not completely. Some times you talk to people face to face because you think the other person benefits from your company(or you flatter yourself to think that). I don't know if this happens that much online. Thank you for your post and enjoy your wrestling.

Harold writes:

Yes, Art, but as I tell my students, real life happens away from a screen. Methinks those striving for the "narrow gate" aren't spending three hours each night watching other people live, whether they are actors on some Netflix original series or on a wrestling show.

NZ writes:

Social media creates more opportunities for people to access the existing kindness of others; your anecdote illustrates that perfectly. But your anecdote does not make the argument (much harder to make, in my opinion) that social media has no net negative effect on how social we are.

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