Save It for the Cloud
Now more than ever, devices are allowing people to link up in new ways. The common perception is that we are a disconnected generation, yet new technology is enabling us to keep up and stay connected with more people than ever before.
Many people believe that we're creating a "disconnectedly connected" society. But if you have a conversation with the folks who are innovating new ways to communicate, you'll understand that there exists a scheme to eventually connect us all, effortlessly and endlessly, to everything and anything (i.e. the "Mind Meld"). And we're actually further along than you might think.
Better, you say?
technology and social media are actually making us better socializers
Contrary to what many people believe (roll the stock zombie footage), technology and social media are actually making us better socializers. How many times have you recently been in a conversation with an old friend that didn't involve any small talk? Recently, I ran into someone who I follow on Twitter. The normal, small talk, catch-up nonsense didn't happen. We just didn't go there. We'd been keeping in touch the whole time and when we saw each other, it was easy to immediately drill down to a more in-depth subject such as a problem my friend was having with his misbehaving dog. (Yay, friends actually supporting each other...)
See, although I've been blessed with "the gift of gab," I really dislike small talk. I'd much rather exchange a meaningful observation, engage in a healthy debate or help someone solve a problem. Tools like Facebook and Twitter actually make in-person situations more fluid, because they allow people to keep each other in the loop.
Bridge the gap between digital and physical community
But what about the real world? Apps help bridge the gap between digital and physical community. Using smartphone location information, the app lets you know who's around you and who, if any, your mutual friends are. As this type of thing becomes more ubiquitous, we'll begin to get a better picture of who we're connected with, at any given moment, in real space.
While it makes for a great narrative, the "disengaged generation", walking around, unaware of their surroundings, is a myth. The true reality is that we are getting better and better at using devices to enhance our reality with context and information, previously unavailable. The rapid pace and specificity at which we communicate is helping us keep up with and connect to more people than ever before, in more meaningful ways. As for the small talk, save it for the cloud.