By Nilesh Bhagat, CHRP
Imagine this: you wake up one morning, tap on your iPad and navigate to your favorite news feed and find this headline trending: ‘Social Media is Dead’.
Facebook, Twitter, Google+… gone. They were all but a social fad whose time has come.
This would imply that those people who keep asking ‘what happened to good ol’ fashioned face-to-face conversations’ are right. Is it possible that the connectivity brought forth by social media platforms in the form of text, images and multimedia will become just a short-term sidebar of the way humans once attempted to communicate? Are we meant to connect best at the simplest level of face-to-face interaction?
Luckily, there is hope for us social media and tech addicts that the future of web-based connectivity is alive and well!
Two pieces of supporting evidence will help me make my point. The first is an article which ventures into the accelerating pace of advancement occurring in the domains of technology used to connect us, including the internet and social media. It explains how we are moving toward a future in which the web will accentuate our experiences with each other – not just through the text, picture or video message posts that we currently share. Rather, we are moving toward a future in which the web and its social platforms will be used to share experiences. These will seem so rich and real to us that their distinction from traditional (i.e., face-to-face) communications will be – neuropsychologically-speaking – minimal or non-existent. As the author of the article puts it: ‘(w)e’re seeing social technology move on two fronts: making the Internet more like a real-life encounter, and facilitating chance real-life encounters’.
The second piece says trust – the glue which binds our every social interaction – is reinforced through online social experiences. Simply put, the level of trust people feel for each other is moderated through the use of social media platforms. The author states: ‘(w)e humans are hard-wired to commingle with one another offline and on-, and the web and its platforms like Facebook and Twitter make it more efficient than ever. That’s because virtual relationships can be as real as actual relationships.’ Social media is adapting (and vice versa) to the ways we function neurologically to create rich and meaningful experiences.
There are already multiple examples of social media platforms taking the next step into this domain of a richer, deeper virtual communication experience. Google+ with its ‘circles’ evokes the emotions associated with our fundamental need to belong and identify to social groups. Better still, Seth Priebatsch – founder of location-based social tool, SCVNGR – is using the social graph popularized by Facebook and taking it to the next level by creating experiences through an added game-layer – evoking even more and deeper emotional responses. Organizations are even taking notice.
The idea here is to accept that we humans are evolutionary. Of course face-to-face interaction will always be a part of the way we communicate. However, we’ve evolved physically and cognitively over the course of our existence and the ways in which we connect and share have concurrently evolved – and will continue to at an accelerated pace as the technologies we invent and perfect keep coming. The result is a future that may not look much like the past. Just as we don’t communicate by grunting at our tribal neighbours today, the dominant ways in which we connect tomorrow will likely not look like the face-to-face conversations we’ve become accustomed to over the last several hundred years.
The gamma wave which is the Internet is quickly connecting us all and the future of communication is upon us. Social media is alive and well.
Nilesh Bhagat, CHRP, is the membership and CHRP administrator at BC HRMA. After several gruelling years in school, Nilesh graduated in October 2010 from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, First Class Honours. He majored in Human Resources Management and tacked on an extended minor in Psychology. He’s a self-confessed nerd (the first step is admitting), likes to read, loves hockey and is struggling with the complexities of learning the game of golf.