Social Question

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

How can we use ever faster communication to build more intimate and more conscious and healthier relationships and communities?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25799 points ) August 6th, 2011

The Internet, computers with broadband, WiFi, iPhones, Android phones, Skype, etc., are all examples of faster communication technology. Is technology destined to atomize society, or can it bring us closer?

Any ideas?

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10 Answers

Aethelflaed's avatar

A few thoughts, all of which will be long and rambling (sorry).
My friend and I tweet several times a day. And by tweet, I don’t mean “hey, everyone, this is what I had for lunch today”, I mean private messages through the Twitter system. It’s awesome, because while both of us aren’t so busy that we don’t have a nice amount of free time, it’s usually not at the same time. Also, Twitter is free, texting is not. So, it allows us to have a lot of small conversations like “remember that convo we had awhile back about what irony is, and I couldn’t explain myself well? Here’s a webcomic saying it a million times better”/“omg, you’re so right! That’s brilliant. I wish he was single, I would totally bone him (the creator)” or talking about how self-involved and hippie-ish her new roommate is. These are the types of conversations that really help a relationship be close and fleshed-out and are the conversations you want (I want, anyway) most of your friendship to be. If we couldn’t use Twitter or IMing, we’d only be able to get together (and thus converse) maybe once every couple of weeks (we both hate talking on the phone), and that would be sad and unawesome. Plus, she’s moving away for a year (internship), so we’re planning on adding Skyping at least once a week, most likely while drinking.

I really think that if technology is distancing you instead of bringing you closer, that’s because you aren’t doing it “right”. Which, I mean, not all people are going to do it in a way that brings them closer together, and they don’t want to, and that’s fine. But all of these things are just tools, it’s up to us to figure out how to use them for good or evil. Just like we have to decide if we’re going to use hammers to create a nice coffee table, or to bash our ex’s brains in. It’s all about choices.

woodcutter's avatar

It all seems very fast right now. Can it all go much faster and change anything?

SpatzieLover's avatar

@woodcutter You could get a chip implanted in your brain. That would speed things up.

woodcutter's avatar

@SpatzieLover Then wait for the satellite to get in the widow so I can work it? I think I will wait until all the bugs are completely worked out first.

mazingerz88's avatar

We are not there yet. Once I can talk to friends, families and colleagues not just in small screens but real time life size images on my wall like they are just there standing in front of me or doing whatever it is they are doing, then that would really be fascinating enough for me to be life altering, imo.

Hibernate's avatar

Technology can bring people closer if their desire for a tight community is above and beyond any individual and the communication is meant only for interaction when they are afar. Some prefer virtual communication because they don’t get to attached to the other person while in real life one can develop feelings that won’t be received the way they were meant to be received.

janbb's avatar

I don’t have any brilliant apercus at the moment but it is a great question. My involvement online has broughtt me closer to some people but has also hurt me and distanced me from real life at times. It is a question I ponder.

the100thmonkey's avatar

As far as “intimate” goes, Dunbar’s Number suggests upper limits on how it might work.

Personally, I don’t see the connection between technology and the atomisation of society. The social connections are still there, there are just extra avenues through which people can form social connections.

wundayatta's avatar

My sister lives in China, and yet I see her online every day (her green icon), and sometimes we chat and sometimes we video chat, and she sends me video that she wants me to do music for. This could never happen without the internet and all these technologies.

I have friends that I stay in touch with via text several times a day, and we chat as well. My wife stays in touch with me using email and phone, mostly.

So this helps me build more intimate relationships with many people, and it allows me to have friends who I never would have met, were it not for the internet.

YARNLADY's avatar

With people taking pictures of newsworthy events, sharing conversations by skype half way around the world, becoming more aware of the plight in other countries, we are already on the brink of becoming a world that actually cares. I won’t see it in my lifetime, but I expect my grandchildren and great grandchildren will.

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