Facebook makes you emotionally stunted

November 26th, 2010 By Scott Savage Categories: Internet

Facebook and Zuckerberg are worshipped in a book, movie and this article. I have nothing but respect for the guy and what he has achieved, but what is it doing to society? And if I was cynical (and/or a capitalist), how can we use that change to predict the next big thing?

The quote at the end of the article really struck a chord with me:

We may laugh at Socrates, in the Phaedrus, for denouncing literacy, which he said would create “forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves…. They will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.”

Is this the first recorded recognition of our increasing degree of specialisation? People’s general knowledge is reduced, and instead focused on a very niche area of experience (i.e. they can rewrite Facebook in Java in under a week, but can’t cook a meat pie).

This specialisation has now extended into the social space. We have less time to socialise, our relationships become more casual, and therefore we need a tool like Facebook to painlessly maintain our fragile web of relationships. Facebook doesn’t deliver a whole lot of intimacy in return, so the numbing cycle continues.

I am not going to make a comment on society becoming more emotionally stunted, because it will make me seem anti-change and old fashioned. Instead, perhaps we can use this as a predictor for future social trends? How can one socialise more efficiently? I only want to be invited to the parties that my best friends are all going to. Alert me when I haven’t replied to my friend’s message within 48 hours. Let me know when I haven’t been tagged in any photos for 7 days and clearly need to get out more. Automated social network maintenance!

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