New technologies have done wonders to provide instant, digital conversation across platforms and countries. This has led to virtual conferencing, classes, collaboration, and dating. Speed of communication and ease of data sharing are paramount. Now some people are wondering what impact the resulting lack of human contact has on us. Humans are no longer socializing – and being socialized – as we did for centuries. What impact does this have on the individual?
What is Socialization?
Socialization is the process by which people learn from the community around them. Learning socially acceptable behaviors and mannerisms in turn molds the individual’s beliefs, actions, and life trajectory. This has always been based upon a community involvement, thereby developing empathy and a sense of group responsibility.
In the event that individuals deviate from socially acceptable behavior, the group reins them in. This assures a generally peaceful community in which problems are managed easily. However, this only works if proper socialization has occurred and the person is part of and answers to a real-world community. What happens when digital living shifts that balance?
Is Socialization Fading?
Without two-sided social interactions, both society and the individual suffer. Psychologically speaking, individuals require a “third place.” Work and home are both valuable places with certain associations and habits. However, having a third sphere with social interactions allows for vital exchange of information and ideas. It also heightens a person’s sense of empathy and ability to understand others by tone and body language.
It is common to stare at a smartphone screen, uncertain about the mood the person texting is in. Purely digital communications can diminish tone and detail. This leads to less fruitful conversations and lost learning opportunities. A lack of feedback can result in younger generations losing touch with the parameters of social acceptable behavior.
Innovations in science and technology certainly offer many positives. But to make the most of them while maintaining healthy socialization, mix it up. Carve out time for live social engagements; do not underestimate face-to-face meetings, and try to video call friends rather than texting. Consistently combining real-world interactions with digital ones will lead to a healthier and happier life.