On being social

The streets of San Francisco are typically busy, especially near the Chinatown district. In the time I spent there, I was amazed at how alive the city was, how much action there was and how many people there were walking around on a daily basis. We are a social species; we like to live in groups. Large, urban groups, it would seem. Our cities are bustling with life, regardless of what country we’re in or what continent we’re on. It’s a fascinating time to live in, for sure.

For all of our social tendencies, how social are we as a people, really? How well do we know our neighbors? For some of us, the answer is very easy: our neighbors are our friends or our family. For others, the answer is a little less clear. I recently lost some great neighbors, and the folks who moved in to take their place… well, they’re not the old neighbors, let’s just say that. The old neighbors would watch our cats when we were away, and we’d watch theirs for them. The new ones won’t likely be invited in, let alone left in charge of the pets.

The number of people worldwide using social platforms (like Twitter & Google+) to communicate with people on a daily (hourly; minutely) basis continues to grow at a staggering rate. Is all of this borne from our desire to live in larger and larger communities? We meet new people online and develop friendships (or more) at a somewhat rapid rate because we now have near-24-hour access to one another. At the same time, online anonymity has given rise to cyber-bullying and forum trolling (not new, but certainly an internet phenomenon). People sometimes feel they can say whatever they want without repercussions because there’s little face-to-face context into which our comments can get put. Is this really social?

Mashable posted a great summary of the major changes to Facebook recently. Changes that will, undoubtedly, make us more social. You now have more than one way to keep track of your friends’ different activities, and some people are feeling a little overwhelmed. Is it too much social? While we desire to live in large, social groups, it would seem that we don’t want everyone surrounding us and talking all at once. As a marketer, that’s good behavioral information to know, and I’ll be watching to see how it all continues to evolve.

The photo used in this post is part of my Project 365 series over on Flickr. Stop by, take a look, and leave a comment. Thanks!


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