11 September 2009

Civilization's Decline

I just read this article I found on Twitter (read it here).  It's from the Harvard Business Blog and Mr. Tom Davenport's headline reads "Are Social Media Contributing to the Decline of Civilization?" He says yes...a part of me agreed with this article and continued reading.  

Mr. Davenport's main argument: a new celebrity gossip (read stalking) website called OMGICU.  He continues to say that our society has now become vapid and obsessed with celebrities and popularity and are using social media to feed this addiction.  While I agree that there are website like this (and yes the thought of them makes me shudder on the inside too) but this is not what social media is about.  

I do not follow Paris Hilton or Tila Tequila on my Twitter page (I'm not even friends with them on facebook) and I still use social media daily and love it.  On Twitter I exchange information and articles (currently they are predominantly about searching and finding a job) or I send messages to my friends who live in different cities.  

His arguments have absolutely nothing to do with social media as a whole.  Social media is about exchanging information, getting it in different ways, getting your information and your news at the same time, really, the way twitter works you choose what comes to you, so you can use it for whatever you want, and that's what the miracle of social media is you get what you want, how you want it all the time.  

If you want to talk about what's wrong with social media...I totally agree that there are problems with it.  I'm very concerned that social media and the internet are removing the interpersonal and face-to-face communications that are the truest forms of communications.  Allowing students to completely ignore face-to-face communication is going to ruin them and our society for the future.  How can you do well in a job interview if you have no face-to-face communication skills?  How can you work with other people if the only form of communication you can handle if via email...the person who sits next to you in the office is NOT going to email you when you're sitting right next to them.  Not to mention phone skills, even simple office assistant positions require the ability to talk to a real person in real time on the telephone with VERBAL words....not just typing.  

THAT will be the decline of civilization, you computer will crash and you will have absolutely no way to hold a conversation with someone because you will have never talked to someone face-to-face...that will be the moment that we will count civilization as lost.  

As for the obsession with celebrities.  I firmly believe that while it is vapid and shallow to be obsessed with people who are rich and famous I do not think that it will cause the end of our civilization.  Why are Anthony and Cleopatra known the world-over?  Because people of the time wanted to know what was happening in their lives and they were considered so important that their lives were to be recorded.  That was thousands of years ago and civilization still exists and still obsesses about royalty.  If the Egyptians, who are believed to be one of the most advanced civilizations ever to walk this earth, I'm sure that our civilization can survive despite some people's shallow obsession with whether or not Angelina Jolie is going to adopt another child from an impoverished country. 

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