But what are the repercussions of raising children in the age of Facebook and Apple ? Will ever-increasing online presences make us more awkward when it comes to personal encounters ? Or, will we lose sight of what it means to be patient, given that we can obtain an answer to most questions at a near instantaneous pace? Bill Keller, in his not-so-well-received NY Times article, feels that our online tendencies are causing us harm.
The shortcomings of social media would not bother me awfully if I did not suspect that Facebook friendship and Twitter chatter are displacing real rapport and real conversation, just as Gutenberg’s device displaced remembering. The things we may be unlearning, tweet by tweet — complexity, acuity, patience, wisdom, intimacy — are things that matter.
However, many feel that social media is doing quite the opposite by fostering a dialogue that is useful in numerous ways and is hence spurring more personal encounters . Furthermore, the power of inclusion inherent to social media has even made it so that we have become more cohesive as a population, exemplified by the recent Egyptian revolution, where Twitter and the #jan25 hashtag was central. But, that is not to say that we shouldn’t take precautions to make sure that Keller’s concerns do not become a reality.
While we have come a long way since the age of the ancient oracle, our desire for information remains constant. Krystal ended her presentation say that nothing has really changed. We had to make an offering to our oracle in 1400 BC, and we still have to make an offering to the oracles of current day – by feeding our oracles power in the form of electricity so that they will continue to tell us what we just need to know.
After hearing this talk, I have a newfound appreciation of how technology has, in my opinion, improved our lives. If you would like to hear about the evolution of communication in more detail, check out the video below. And don’t forget to read Anthropology of education , to get more insight on how and why we are where we are, from an anthropological point of view.