Posted by: robie2002 | June 11, 2007

Social pariah 2.0

I was visiting a friend and his wife at the weekend, both 30, so not really old, and in fact still in the key demographic for marketing folks.

What surprised me though is that they didn’t have any real understanding of web technology, services or tools. Now don’t get me wrong, my friend is as drawn in by gimmicks as much as you would expect a man to be, he is also impressed by, if he doesn’t buy, gadgets; again just like a good bloke should be. And to be fair to him he uses iTunes to buy music more than me (I still can’t get away from owning music on a physical format…) but he had never used youtube and struggled with the navigation (he now thinks it is great though, obviously).

I also had to explain the joy of social networking, and blogging, just generally the whole concept of Web2.0, collaborative working and sharing. They just weren’t interested and it meant that the rest of the weekend had them asking if I was going to put x minor thing ‘on my facebook’ or blog the fact that I got up at 10.00am…

However it got me wondering about the way the world is heading. Are we heading to the point where you have your social life organised and mapped out on line for all to see, will it create a new form of social pariah, like the people that give up on modern life and go to live in a farmhouse in the countryside with no running water, electricity, phone etc… and are my friends already there? Is their closed off web world like that country farm? Or are they right, are we allowing ourselves to be consumed by the web? Is it healthy to want to share your life with so many strangers, to stay in touch with people we hardly know and that in the old days we would just have lost contact with and maybe bumped in to once a year, or just sent a Christmas card? Is it symptomatic that as we close ourselves off from the real world by driving everywhere in our cars with windows closed and aircon, to then sit in our offices e-mailing people we don’t know, before heading home and doing the same thing again, doing our shopping online, ordering takeaway food (staying in is often cited as the new going out)… Are we proprogating the whole society of ‘me’ being given a canvass to shout in to the darkness in the hope someone is listening, and that if they hear us they will care and not wonder what that annoying noise is disrupting the peace? I mean who am I talking to now, in reality just myself.

However, the problem is, I am starting to love it, I like the self pontificating canvass that a blog provides, I enjoy posting pictures of little artistic merit and sharing them with the world, I enjoy collecting friends of friends on facebook and seeing what other people do with their time in the world; in a way it is just the extension of the age old pen pal concept, surely?

But then who is the real social pariah? The person who doesn’t embrace the web and only sees the smaller group of people they phone and live near, or the person that sits inside and has a big group of virtual friends; well maybe real friends but in the virtual world.



  1. […] immensely rich view of the world. Not as self-pontificating as Robert imagines while talking about digital natives & digital immigrants. Using photos of oft-snapped subjects (like Notre Dame) scraped from around the Web, Photosynth […]

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