Wired & disconnected!

Today more and more persons are choosing to communicate via social networking sites. In digitalalone spaces like facebook you have the sense you have all your friends together in a cyber-neighborhood. One consequence of this is that someone feels no need to call his/her friends and meet them for a drink or dinner, to see each other and discuss in a time-spatial proximity. If I feel I see my friends on facebook, then there is no need to meet them. I have already learned their news in “minifeed”. I read the wall posts. I know they are good and healthy, so there is no need for more intimate contact. So virtual intimacy is growing by reducing direct contact.

The obvious conclusion to be drawn is that we are facing a totally different quality of communication and sociality. There is a lack of direct body contact which is replaced by virtual contact, characterized by different qualities. This has significant results in the area of individual’s psychology and in the ways of social interaction and communication. The hybrid new environment combines virtual and direct social contact. Due to this there is a transformation of psychological functions in the area of conception, imagination, memory, emotions, cognitive procedures and mental functions, as well as learning processes. This transformation of psychological mechanisms can be compared to the transformation due to the transition from oral to literate societies.

Nowadays being wired in the social networking’s cyberspace means to be physical separated by the means of direct contact. Cyber wired but physical disconnected resulting in a different quality of intimacy. Body contact, smell and feromones were always a significant way of moving from individuality to humanity, from individual to person. For thousands of years human psychological mechanisms were developed without literacy and virtuality. The last few thousand years literacy dramatically changed our mental horizons. Virtuality in the last few years may be is changing our route in a way that will be understood in the future by the next fully digital generation.

This is not science but I beleive time and spatial closeness is the key to strong, intimate and health providing personal relations. Be wired results to be physical disconnected, results to be not touched, literally and metaphorically.


3 responses to “Wired & disconnected!

  • nin

    I think “your” opinion about disconnection and loss of intimacy is a hype.
    I judge only from my experience. I don’t meet my friends only to exchange information no matter about what. I meet them because of the pleasure of real face to face interaction.

  • alex

    I agree that the public techno-phobic opinion about total disconnection and loss of intimacy is hyperbolic. I wanted to stress the one side of the coin. However I am really concerned about the using of facebook (and work overload and tv and other excuses) as an alibi for avoiding face-to-face meetings. In any case online social interactions are experienced by our very corporal body and they are always integrated with face-to-face social interactions to form a unique and undivided personal social lived experience.

    Online social networking sites are based on the satisfaction of users’ emotional needs for social connections and relations and not on plain information interchange. I think this is the key for the success of social networking sites. However, I agree with you about the pleasure of real face to face interaction. Human body language and body touch are the most important channels of intimate communication and cannot be substituted by virtual interaction.

    What I am saying in the post is that probably online social networking has an effect (among others) of reducing real face to face interactions. The day has 24 hours and if we spend some of them on a computer we cannot spend them on something else. When I come back to home may I won’t call a friend of me to ask for a meeting to see each other and discuss because we are facebook friends and I have the illusion I know is “there” (in cyberspace) and looks ok. This is what Kenneth Gergen calls absent presence. I am afraid of this situation and I worry a bit. On the other hand there is always the possibility to have a real face to face but superficial interaction and a virtual but deep emotional one.

  • Randall Arnold

    I agree with your general premise, but what I suspect is happening to a large extent is that people otherwise uncomfortable with true social interaction (due to autism, shyness, physical handicap, etc) can now interact with other human beings on a level never before possible for them. I do believe many people use venues like facebook as a physically social substitute out of lesser motives such as laziness, but I think for the most part we are seeing large numbers of formally socially-disenfranchised souls finally finding a means of comfortably communicating with others. What may point to a problem for some is also a solution for others.

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