Thursday, December 27, 2012

Social Media and Social Etiquette

This is the decade of social media. 

I was doing my usual scan of technology news.  Sure enough, there was yet another new media app. Samsung is releasing ChatOn2.0 as warm-up to CES 2013. It's like a mother of all chat apps - you can chat with up to five connected devices on a single account, you can do group chats, invite friends to conversations from different platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Weibo, mix multi-media in your chat and on and on. 

It seems niche social networking apps are popping up almost weekly, connecting us in our virtual world in myriad ways - keeping track of our friends, sharing our media, arranging a game, check-in to your place of interest, finding a date and on and on. In other words, short of hugging your friend, you can pretty much connect to your friends in all possible ways without leaving your leaving room sofa.  

The beauty of these tools is that you can connect without really being connected. Your Facebook settings are configured to send birthday wishes to your friends while you are asleep. Before the clock strikes midnight on Dec 31, your pictures from Times Square will find its way to your friends so you can celebrate the New Year together - no need to be really together!

Don't get me wrong.  I am a personal fan of social networking and continue to be excited about things I could not have done without these tools. It is nice to be able to stay linked to people across the globe who may share the same hobbies or went to same school and be able to share ideas, location, media at the push of a button.

 I can't help wondering if the ease of our digital networking and sharing will someday take over our human connections or sometimes make us forget our basic human traits.

I was appalled and shocked last week to read about the most brutal andhorrific rape of a woman in India. I was appalled even more when I saw a picture of the woman from her hospital bed posted all over Facebook. Many of these people were well-intentioned and wanted to share their outrage. Did anybody pause to think about her privacy? Just because your smartphone can quietly take the picture and your social media app can post it instantly, should you not still remain concerned about some basic human protocol?