A few nights ago, someone who did not grow up with the Internet asked me what the purpose of Twitter is – and how following hundreds of people’s every day activities can add to your life. For me, the main value is that I have a large social circle of people who I can draw on at any time to help me solve a problem, answer a question, spark an idea, or stay in touch with close friends. I completely disagree with people who believe that the constant connectedness that exists in society is causing us to lack meaningful interactions.
The New York Times magazine recently had a great article about technology, privacy, and culture called Brand New World of Digital Intimacy. The article focuses on how technologies such as Twitter, Dopplr, Loopt, and the Facebook Newsfeed allow us to have incessant contact with each other, and whether or not it brings value to our society.
This constant ambient awareness is not really about each individual message or bit of information that is shared. But rather, it is about the collection of information that together, create a sophisticated view into the lives of individuals – based on what they believe is important enough for them to share with their peers.
The article raises another interesting point. We are in an era where technology, though expanding our networks, is bringing us back to the dynamics of small town life – where everyone knows your business. Yes, this generation that has never known life without the Internet spends countless hours cruising sites like Facebook and Twitter to never lose touch with their friends. Yet, in doing so, a new culture of people who know much more about themselves is emerging.
In constantly broadcasting your thoughts, actions, feelings, and ideas – could it be that in this age of awareness, the person you see most clearly is yourself?