Monday, 3 August 2009

Social networking websites, texting and e-mails are undermining community life,

.... the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has warned .....

See the BBC report here.

It's a funny old world. Surely people who use facebook are aware of the difference between making contacts on Facebook and making 'real' friends. The archbishop's concerns are around the way people are using text instead of face to face interaction....


Archbishop Nichols said society was losing some of its ability to build communities through inter-personal communication, as the result of excessive use of texts and e-mails rather than face-to-face meetings or telephone conversations.

He said skills such as reading a person's mood and body language were in decline, and that exclusive use of electronic information had a "dehumanising" effect on community life.


Interesting idea - 'excessive use of texts or emails' .... I admit I get fed up of too many emails but this is because they signify an increased workload over the decades. This is not about reduced capacity to communicate - maybe even the reverse.

I am not aware of the research that says we can no longer read each other's body language - and must admit I doubt this. I would argue that Facebook (and other sites) are not used instead of face to face communication for most people - but 'as well as' . It is about keeping in contact when it is not possible to see each other. Thus for the majority this kind of virtual contact is additional to other kinds of interactivity. Take Twitter users for example - the 140 word quickies mean that we can keep in touch on the hoof and that we are able to balance a whole range of complex relationships whilst doing other things at the same time. We are perfectly aboe to read the body language of others as well ... especially that rolling eye movement when people discover you are addicted to Twitter!

Further it cannot be underestimated how powerful it is to meet somebody for the first time who you previously only knew online. But anyhow, that aside, it is the case also (e.g. see Sonia Livingstone's work or Benkler ) that most young people keep in contact with just those people who they already know through face to face networks.

Finally, there are many people whose only networks are through online interactivity. I am talking here of people who are isolated through disability, illness - or even because they are carers - who find great friendships in online communities. To be forever reading in the press that such relationships are not good enough or are of lesser quality is a value judgement that puts such individuals in a deficit space. It is bad enough to be isolated without having condemnatory remarks made about what may be the only relationships that exist beyond the home for some people.

Nice little vid showing how the world can go ALL WRONG if we start behaving in RL how we behave in Facebook.... (don't have nightmares now) ....

1 comment:

professional digital restoration said...

Interesting article. There are now intrenet rehab centres in China and USA!