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Old 05-15-2019, 11:25 AM
Chad Sudan is online now
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Posts: 57

How has the online world changed in-person social life?

Question for those who came of age before the internet:

Based on your own observations (of you and those around you)...

How has online social media and the internet affected the quality/quantity of in-person social life? How has it affected time spent with friends or meeting new people in person?

And (here's the kicker) we all remember life before the internet, but in the meantime, we've all gotten 20+ years older, and older folks will in any case have different social lives and social circles than younger folks. So how do we know what changes to attribute to the internet?
Old 05-15-2019, 11:55 AM
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Beckdawrek is online now
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Location: So.Ark ?
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I'm not into or on any social media, unless you count here, the Dope and Pinterest. I'm agoraphobic in alot of ways. So this has helped me get out of my shell.
OTOH, the lil'wrekker is 20yo. She has grown up with a screen in her face. She's a very internet savvy person. Her iPhone is never out of her hanf. But she has a big IRL group of friends too.
It depends on the person. IMO

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 05-15-2019 at 11:57 AM.
Old 05-15-2019, 12:13 PM
ITR champion is offline
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Location: Indiana
Posts: 10,340
Plainly there are still plenty of venues where people do meet each other in real life, such as sporting events, restaurants, and the like. On the other hand, it seems evident the with Smart Phones, the internet intrudes into almost every face-to-face interaction. Previously, one-hour conversations uninterrupted might occur. Nowadays when the conversion slows down or stops, the participants are likely to whip out their cell phones before a minute of boredom can occur. The phones can come out while conversation is ongoing as well.

Earlier generations:

"I think the Wizard of Oz was released in 1938."
"No it wasn't. It was in 1939."
"Was not!"
"Was too!"

Present day:

"I think the Wizard of Oz was released in 1938."
"No it wasn't. It was in 1939."
"Let me check."
Old 05-15-2019, 12:13 PM
ThelmaLou's Avatar
ThelmaLou is online now
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I think the ease and ubiquity of internet communication has a lot of downsides (which others may mention), but I'll state one positive for me. I'm not on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or any other social media. But emailing and texting make it possible to stay in touch with people much more easily and regularly than before those channels existed.

There are plenty of times when a quick text enables you to share a thought or idea or a congratulatory message when in the past you probably wouldn't have bothered to make a phone call or write a note. Sometimes you might want to share an article, for instance, and all you have to do is send a link. In the past you had to cut out the article/cartoon/recipe and mail it. I have several text message threads in play on my phone and I can just check in with a message or gif or something without the possible intrusion or inconvenience of a phone call.

As someone who has lived alone more years than I've lived with someone else, I like that throughout the day I can text or email someone and connect (however superficially) when 30 years ago, I was very isolated and was not in touch with people except at work. On weekends, I was really cut off, as I lived waaay outside of town and no one came out to see me.

I have a group of women friends (seven of us) connected in a text thread and a message will quickly inform everyone of a change of plans, news in someone's family, etc. Before texting/emailing, arranging a get-together was a hodgepodge of missed phone calls.

Like I said, there are downsides, but the ease of keeping in touch, especially with multiple people at the same time, is one of the positives.
"Itís not who starts the game, but who finishes it." John Havlicek
Old 05-15-2019, 01:36 PM
l0k1 is online now
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I'm 45, and the ease of staying in contact with friends that don't live in the same city as I do has been the best thing. I have friends now that I lost touch with in the 90s because I didn't want to make expensive phone calls and wasn't into letter writing. It's so much easier now to stay in touch and make arrangements to see each other in real life. With most forms of modern communication, the thing that made me adopt them was when that became the way my friends contacted each other to say what bars they were going to after work.

When it was phone, it meant that I needed to know my friends' work numbers, they needed to know mine, and I would sometimes have to pretend to be talking about something else. When email came along, it was so much easier. One email goes out to everyone. If anyone is missing the email gets forwarded to them. I don't need to talk to anyone, I just have to make sure that at least one person knows my email address. Texting never really supplanted email in my circle until recently. When Facebook came along, it made planning even easier, as friends would just post where they were planning to drink that evening.

Today I use facebook to share photos and occasionally jokes or other things with friends and family. And to look at my family's and friends' photos. I block everything that I don't want to see, and report at least one site or add a week, if for no other reason than to keep the algorithm on its toes. If a friend is having a public fight with his nazi uncle, I block the uncle. If a friend likes a page that advertise biblical codes and chem-trails, I block the page. I haven't had any extensive fights on facebook since the uprising in Baltimore. Most of those happened when a friends posted a question, and then their nazi uncle or racist neighbor wanted to lecture me about my city and why the curfew and the National Guard were somehow good for my neighborhood and not security theater designed for those that don't live here.

Now I just black those people.
Old 05-15-2019, 04:30 PM
Wesley Clark is online now
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My impressions:

If you feel different or like an outcast, its much easier to find online communities of people who feel the same way. No matter what trauma or weird thoughts you've had, there are endless people with the same. This is good and bad. Good because it can make you feel less alone, but bad because destructive attitudes can find echo chambers (incels, alt-right, etc).

Dating has become harder. People are more flaky and have almost like delusions of endless choice, making them both pickier and flakier.

The internet hasn't really made meeting new people in person easier in my view. Places like meetup aren't very good for that because the people change every week in those meetup groups. I feel like the internet could be used as a great tool to help people meet in real life, but so far it hasn't worked out for that.

Going to my 20 year high school reunion though wasn't too surprising since I knew what everyone looked like, what they did, etc. before going there due to facebook. The surprise was gone.
Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 05-15-2019 at 04:31 PM.
Old 05-15-2019, 05:02 PM
Really Not All That Bright is offline
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I'm 36, and while I experienced the pre-Internet world,* I've watched the post-Internet world develop gradually. So it's hard for me to compare the two. I can no longer imagine what it would be like to not have the sum total of human knowledge at my fingertips, although for practical purposes I could have found most of the information I might go looking for in a library (had I the ability and the inclination). I could call my brother in England back in 1995, and I can still do so now, but now I can also contact him in real time in a half-dozen other ways, and share photographs and what not.

Having access to the Internet and the apps that depend on it in my pocket at all times is also a pretty substantial change, but it's one of quantity rather than quality; before the Internet, you couldn't do any of that stuff at all, and now you can do it anywhere instead of having to wait until you get home (or to school or work or whatever).

As a lawyer, it's important to note that I came along in the first era where statute and case books were no longer really needed. I can access the last 80 years of Florida appellate case law via LexisNexis or Westlaw, and I can access much of the rest via online law libraries. 20 years ago, I would have had to drive to the local law school to access their physical law library, and possibly even had to visit another city to find a really esoteric authority. Not only that, but I didn't have to spend a whole lot of time working in the (awful) original Lexis or Westlaw interfaces; LexisAdvance and WestlawNext already existed by the time I was in law school, and they're a million times better than their forebears.

*I know the Internet was around before me, but the World Wide Web wasn't and hardly anyone had access to it anyway.
This can only end in tears.
Old 05-16-2019, 11:49 AM
poweradd is offline
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Posts: 10
I'm in my 60s, and first got on the internet in 1995.

I was an enthusiastic letter-writer back in the day, as were most of my friends. Email made "letter writing" a lot easier, and was in every respect a gain. Email just made what we were already doing easier. And email didn't change the intimacy of letter writing.

All of that changed with Facebook. People broadcast things via Facebook instead of share them on a one-to-one basis, and if you're not on Facebook, people aren't likely to carve out an exception for you and communicate directly, never mind tailor their discussion to fit what their relationship is with you. So it's either Facebook or nothing. I have chosen nothing--not that it was actually a choice, but the only non-Facebook option.

I see the trajectory as not unlike the internet in general. At first, it was a miracle, where you could find out just about anything you wanted to know, with information provided by people who almost always knew what they were talking about and provided the information out of the goodness of their hearts. Nowadays, even aside from fake news and other intentional misstatements, there's so much misinformation out there that the net effect is that we're back to not knowing anything: pre-internet, the information just wasn't available; now, there's so much information and misinformation that you have to work hard to figure out what's factual or true.

But back to the original question, which was how it's affected social relationships--I think this will turn out to be a massive unregulated experiment conducted without anyone's consent, and am kind of glad I'm old enough that I won't see the end result because I don't think it's going to be pretty.
Old 05-16-2019, 11:58 AM
Really Not All That Bright is offline
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How is it conducted "without anyone's consent"? You have to opt in to social media and the like. It's trivially easy to keep information about oneself off the Internet by staying off the Internet.
This can only end in tears.
Old 05-16-2019, 12:58 PM
poweradd is offline
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Posts: 10
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
How is it conducted "without anyone's consent"? You have to opt in to social media and the like.
Maybe I should have said "knowing" consent, because most people didn't (and many still don't) have any idea of what they are "paying" for free services like Facebook and Gmail. In fact, I don't think even the services themselves had any real idea of what people would be "paying" when they started the services.
Old 05-23-2019, 09:44 PM
LC Strawhouse is offline
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Posts: 1,744
Dating is the big one that occurs to me. Before the internet, people would be encouraged to take a chance on complete strangers, in ways that would seem unthinkably creepy/scary/dangerous now. I can attest that young males would get heaps of social pressure from older adults to "be brave" and approach strange women.
Nowadays, meeting people is much more of an automated "dance", and strangers get vetted online long before any meeting takes place.
Old 05-25-2019, 09:07 AM
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Bryan Ekers is online now
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How has the online world changed in-person social life?

I'll explain it in a sec, lemme just finish this tweet.
Old 05-25-2019, 01:09 PM
BrickBat is offline
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Location: US
Posts: 358
Actually, yes.

There are two people who over the past few years seem to have jumped on the "all facebook, all the time" bandwagon. I'm not on facebook, and though I've been exposed to it often, have no desire to be ( on facebook ). I've known them for 20+ years. There's been no falling out, no "bad blood", and I still consider them my friends. Since then though, we seem to be slowly but surely becoming more estranged with each other.

We know each other's address, phone numbers, and emails. It seems that if the communication isn't via facebook, they're not interested. Such is life.

Last edited by BrickBat; 05-25-2019 at 01:11 PM.
Old 05-27-2019, 05:03 AM
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BigT is offline
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Location: "Hicksville", Ark.
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
How is it conducted "without anyone's consent"? You have to opt in to social media and the like. It's trivially easy to keep information about oneself off the Internet by staying off the Internet.
Joining Facebook is consensual, yes. But we didn't sign up for an experiment. We signed up to have a place to talk to some friends.

It's one of those situations where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The social media revolution changed society in ways that were unexpected. People signed up for something small, but wound up getting some big.

An example would be the fake news thing. I can't imagine anyone anticipated that being an issue back when they signed up for Facebook. They didn't consent to that. It just happened.

Is this what you mean by not knowing "the cost", poweradd?
Old 05-27-2019, 10:57 AM
survinga is offline
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Location: In the Deep South
Posts: 394
Texts and emails make keeping up with people easier.

But I don't do FB, Twitter, or other types of social media.

I think one downside is that people now aren't as dialed into their local communities as the old days. I used to live in a very small town in Georgia 25-30 years ago, and I was forced to go out in that community and make friends, either by going to church or joining some local clubs or hanging out with co-workers on a golf course, etc. I also grew up in Metro Atlanta, and the kids used to all get outside and play games of football, baseball, basketball, ride bikes, work on cars together, and other things. I think the pre-internet world was more "outside" and kids socializing in that way. Now, everyone stays holed up in their house, and I think that gives rise to obesity and lack of ability to socialize.

I'm not anti-online. Hell, I'm on this board. But I think having too much online has a downside.
Old 05-29-2019, 02:55 PM
poweradd is offline
Join Date: May 2019
Posts: 10
Originally Posted by BigT View Post
Is this what you mean by not knowing "the cost", poweradd?
Yes, that's exactly what I meant.

I can't believe people still "do business" with Facebook, considering how Facebook acts. Never mind what Facebook is doing to people individually--look what it's doing to society. Every person on Facebook is contributing to that, in essence saying, "Facebook, I approve of what you're doing." And even if they don't actually that, they're unwilling, or even unable, to quit.

Unfortunately, it also affects those of us who don't want to have anything to do with Facebook. Again, Facebook is changing society and even non-Facebook users are affected by that, but on a more personal level, we can end up in BrickBat's shoes, and lose friends to Facebook.

This situation is particularly hard on me because I still remember hearing about something called Mosaic and I thought it sounded like the coolest thing in the world. I enthusiastically jumped on board, and now 20 years later, I couldn't be more disappointed.


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