What's changing socially because of technology?

I just read this article about how high schools are having fewer dances. The reason seems pretty straigthforward. In the old days, school dances were one a setting for hanging out with friends. Today, teenagers can interact on social media, and thus they don’t want to bother getting together in a crwoded gymnasium decorated with construction paper.

What other social institutions are vanishing, changing, or appearing because of technology?

I’ve heard tell around these parts of personal ads in the newspaper. I can’t even imagine!

Dating is certainly changing.

The whole “spoiler” thing has blossomed with the internet and social media. Not that it wouldn’t be rude before to ruin a film for someone but, when you’re just speaking to one or two people at a time, it was easy enough for the spoilee to say “Wait, don’t tell me about it, I haven’t seen it yet”. Today, when we’re essentially micro-publishing to hundreds of people at a time, the onus is on the spoiler to remain silent or provide ample warning and it’s a crime against the social contract if they fail to do so.

Sending letters. And thankyou notes. And Christmas cards.

(there used to be a whole genre of stories/jokes about “Dear John” letters, for example.

The Internet is driving massive social transformation. Disenfranchised groups are using video evidence and social media to find their voice and demand change.

Same-sex marriage went from being a wedge issue used by Republicans to being supported by a vast majority of the population - in about 10 years!!! That is a super-rapid change - something that has been commented on by a lot of pundits in the wake of the SCOTUS ruling and other acts in favor of SSM. I am asserting that technology was central to that change in mindset and mobilizing for that issue.

I’ll take a stab at it… not quite sure how to articulate the concept though.

I think the idea of having a plan for the evening is changing. Back in the day, you tended to agree to meet somewhere well ahead of time, and that initial meeting place was more or less fixed in stone, as getting the word out about changes in venue or time was kind of tough, and someone always got left out. From there, you usually made up your mind as a group, in person.

Nowadays, it seems much more flash-mob like, with people texting in the early evening on a Friday about what’s going on that night, and it just sort of coagulating into a sort of ad-hoc plan.

I’ve seen it change from college (no cell phones), when unless you were just winging it with people from your apartments or dorm, you generally made a plan and stuck to it, at least for the first place you went for the evening. As a young adult, cell phones were common, and so was email at work (not texting though), and people would generally bash a plan together on Friday afternoon at about 3 o’clock, and usually stick to it, and notify anyone via cell if there were changes.

Now, as a middle-aged old fart, if I wanted to go out, I’d probably just text my friends at about 5-6 on a Saturday asking what they were doing, and if they didn’t have a plan, we’d probably agree to meet somewhere. Any changes would just be texted on the fly.

It’s a minor change but when I was young, we had much fewer options on television; the big three networks, public television and maybe a couple of local stations (which eventually became the Fox network and the CW network). So you could watch a show and be reasonably sure the next day that others had seen it last night and at the same time you did. Now, there are so many ways to watch shows and so many people binge-watch or delay watching shows on their DVR that the shared experience is lost.

Except for live and special events like the Superbowl, the Oscars ceremony and reality competitions like The Bachelor. I’ve read that companies like the one that Dick Clark started are being bought specifically because of interest in these special events that people will watch live.

I believe that social media is offering mankind an opportunity to go back to the tribal or village mentality of distinquishing ourselves in some special niche. In other words we have a better opportunity to create an identitiy that we are actually happy with and is appreciated by others.

This was largely lost for a large segment of society with the advent of large companies, large farms, large cities etc. Through social media we can easily find like minded people and particapate in a meaningful way.

In general, the chance to be an idiot without the risk of embarrassment no longer exists.

I graduated college in 2006 just before camera and video phones became the norm. I’m very glad that the stupid shenanigans in which I participated in college weren’t recorded. It would have been way less fun if I was worried about everything I did being broadcast to everyone I knew. The same goes for high school. Today’s teenagers will have their cringe-worthy episodes recorded for all to potentially see.

It will be interesting to see how political campaigns will be affected 25 years from now. There will be dirt on everyone.

This is a significant change, but I don’t think it’s a reversion back to the village. People aren’t bound to their niche anymore, and also aren’t bound to interact outside of it either. I don’t see this as a good thing, but I don’t see it as the end result either because a lack of diverse interests will leave many people in the situation of a displaced farmer who has to learn city ways.

Every year I have 1-2 students whose parents don’t let them have a cell phone (in high school!) out of principle, not lack of resources. I find this appalling, because it’s really isolating those kids socially. The other kids don’t mean to do it, but it’s inevitable. This year, I took one senior aside and basically told him that if his parents didn’t loosen up on the issue for college, he needed to let me talk to them. I’m sympathetic to the no-screens aesthetic, but I can’t see the benefits possibly outweighing the costs at this point.

Shopping and hanging out at the mall. The mall used to be a popular hangout for teenagers, and during the Christmas shopping season it was insanity to go to a mall.

Now malls are dying all over the country. And the ones still around I don’t think are doing all that well. The largest and most recently built mall in our area, 18 year old Great Lakes Crossing, has a few overflow lots on the perimeter of their land that are crumbling, with weeds growing through the cracks, because they never get used. Even on a weekend during the height of the holiday shopping season the main lot is barely 3/4 full. They recently opened an aquarium attached to the mall to try to bring in more traffic.

I would say that with the porn industry at an explosive high - especially and specifically because of cybersex - traditional prostitution may have slowed down. I don’t have any statistics, but I’m guessing that I’m correct.

An interesting change in both directions is the concept of the ‘water cooler topic’.

When there were three networks and fewer movies, there were common cultural touchstones that practically everyone had experienced at the same moment and were eager to discuss.

Now, with PVRs and ‘binge watching’ and a million things to watch and experience, there are fewer events that everyone has shared at the same moment.

At the same time, the internet has allowed everyone who is passionate about anything to find a like-minded group to discuss these things, both in real time and in review.

So, there are fewer ‘real time’ common cultural touchstones, but also more opportunities to discuss the important events to YOU with a large number of like-minded people.

Knowledge retention is changing. People are using Google as their memory system rather than their own brain.

It also affects non-wetware knowledge.

E.g., I’ve been going thru my old office/school/tech stuff and throwing a lot out. One hard thing I’ve had to accept is that virtually all my books are for pulp only. Anything I want to look up in them is online (with updates). More info, faster.

They aren’t even worth donating. Computer Science and such books get really useless fast. E.g., I threw out a Unix SysAdmin’s manual from 1989. Utterly useless. Some old Cisco exam books? Gone. I pulled the CDs out since they don’t go into the recycling and thought “Hmm, the software on these might be useful.” But those got chucked as well. Better stuff is also on the Net.

A new aspect of social relations is that we now must judge the attractiveness of strangers solely by the tops of their heads (as that’s all we can see when they are texting).

I bought stamps for the first time in more than a year. I pay my bills online and email or text or call for other contact. I bought the stamps because Ivygirl is in basic training and writing letters is the only way we can communicate with her.

I don’t get lost with GPS. Oh, I may make a wrong turn, but the days of driving in circles are gone.

I get my news faster. My Facebook will explode with whatever the latest tidbit is. (Although I think I was first in my circle to announce Alan Rickman’s death. :frowning: )

I don’t have a phone book anymore. I look up phone numbers online.

If I like a song, I don’t have to buy the entire album.

I can surf the library in my pajamas and have the books delivered to my Kindle.

I was actually idly thinking about this the other day at work, and wondering why I seemed more connected with my co-workers in the past, despite generally being the youngest person for the first half of my career. I didn’t come up with a good reason, other than it seemed to me that I have less in common with them, and I wondered why, as none of my co-workers in other jobs were really very similar to me either.

I bet you nailed it on the head; in the past, we’d talk about sports, or a handful of popular TV shows, or current events, etc… but nowadays, I find myself watching few of the same shows- not so much because I’m some sort of YouTube or Netflix fiend, but because everyone’s got 200 channels, and what time we do spend watching TV, it’s not centered around the 4 major networks and handful of minor networks available on broadcast TV.

Air conditioning has put an end to people sitting on the front porch talking to neighbors who take an evening walk.

For some reason, technology has created so many jobs, every adult has one, so noone would have time to sit on the front porch anyway