Yesterday evening I called up my grandma, because I’m a good granddaughter like that. And I’m 5,000 miles away and sometimes it’s just nice to say hi. But we started talking and somehow got on the conversation of social media and teh internets. Okay, not so surprising considering I was part of the conversation, but that my grandma was the other half makes it so. She’s of the generation and mindset, “I don’t get texting, if you want to talk to someone call them!” Which is valid, but somehow seems old fashioned. The other thing was “It’s so expensive!” Which, in the UK is not true, and if you have an unlimited plan in the US is not true either. And I think most developing countries primarily use texts. Which I pointed out.
And then we started talking about the quality of communication and we started agreeing. With a few generations between us we were both able to plainly see the deteriorating state of quality communication and community in this era of technological divide. Everyone is trying to make the way to communicate and interact. There are so many options that a lot of the time conversations end up just skimming the surface. I started explaining how I saw the advancement of technology in correlation with community starting with the advent of the radio and I eased her into the idea of the internet and where it was going.
I brought up citizen journalism, the recent revolutions in the middle east (and the google/twitter colab), and the earthquake in Japan: http://twitter.com/#!/amandapalmer/status/46139125912449024
All the while relating twitter and what it is/how it works, but mostly I focused on the sense of community and collaboration. I tried to drive in the potential inherent in these new forms of communication (but at no point did I try to doubt the drivel that is being produced). I started to build for her the idea of mixing the online world with the offline world.
Finally we came down to discussing community. Community has faltered because we don’t know how to interact with the new technology we are creating. We don’t know it’s capabilities and we’re on a divide. Right now we have generations of people that don’t get, and see technology as something that has crippled as much as it has helped; we have those that are oblivious to what has been lost (communities that are engaged and care); and we have the young people that are searching for connection, belonging and community. Obviously these are broad sweeping generalisations and not all people fit into their generational “norm” but regardless of age we do have these three kinds of people. That makes it incredibly difficult to navigate the potential. In future years it will be easier because people won’t know a time without the technology. But for now, we have to strive to recapture interaction and community, engagement and common social etiquette. It won’t be the same as it was before we thrust technology upon ourselves, but aspects of it can be retooled and reclaimed for this new world.