You’ve heard the phrase “The meek shall inherit the earth.” Well, by now you should have realized “The Geeks Have Inherited The Earth” So, while there may or may not be an apocalypse in your future that hands the keys over to the mild-mannered, the dorks are currently driving. Need proof? Look at Forbes list of the richest Americans. Number one, by a long shot, is Bill Gates. And Facebook’s Zuckerberg and the Google Boys Sergey and Larry have cracked the top 20. These people rely on social networking and socially shared data to get the top advertising dollars.
If you’re still missing the irony, here you go. The people who were best known for having very poor social skill sets, as a stereotype, are the ones that have developed the most socially shared technologies. I don’t personally know Bill Gates, but I’m guessing he wasn’t prom king. Zuckerberg? At least one swirlie in his lifetime. And Steve Jobs was a very charismatic speaker, but probably wasn’t going to take home Sexiest Man trophies no matter how silver-tongued he was. However, each of them shared one trait – geeky. That’s not to say geeks don’t have friends. (Thank you CBS). It is to say, they are called geeks for a reason. They have excelled at one type of incredibly complicated form of technology. And that technology, their invention, has become their spouse/brother/family/friends.
And now those technologies, combined, have given all introverts/underdogs the power to join forces and become the most socially powerful force on the planet? On a device powered by Gates/Jobs and connected by Zuckerberg’s network – revolutions have started and other movements are currently gaining strength. Anyone, alone in their basement, has the tools to be a complete radio/television station. Webcams and podcasts have allowed the sublime to the banal to be heard by an audience far beyond any soapbox on a street corner. We have become empowered by transmission. But is it truly social? Not by the standard definition. We tend to think of a social person as being good with other people and in our minds we make the automatic mental leap towards physical interaction with others. People who win “Most Social” awards don’t typically win them because they tweeted the best. But that word – social – may be headed towards a most antisocial redefinition.
Imagine you are the most socially adept person on Twitter. You maintain hundreds of relationships simultaneously. And you do it well. Imagine your videos on G+ or your posts on Facebook are the stuff of legend. People eagerly await and share them. You are viral. Thousands of eyes and ears consume your content. Now, take it one step further. You’ve given Facebook and G+ the permission to broadcast what you consume to your group. You are part of the collective endorsement. You not only share your thoughts and creations but you share your preferences and tastes through the penultimate permission marketing. Could it be any more social? Could it be anymore antisocial?
As social as you are about what you eat/listen to/read, as social as you are about how many teeth your toddler now has, as social as you are about sharing your thoughts…you are still doing most of these actions alone. But what about social gatherings? Concerts? Art festivals? I tweet there too and I’m not alone! Yes, you do. And haven’t you just become a bit more antisocial in the process? Think about your last concert. When you looked around did you notice the number of people not talking to each other but instead tweeting or posting? The “antisocial socialite” is required to at least partially forego human social interaction to maintain the electronic relationship. It’s antisocial…or maybe it’s the new definition of social.
Maybe antisocial is the wrong word. Maybe we should call it bi-social. We’ve become such an instantly connected society. What was once a pain in the ass ( calling/texting every friend we know to share the great news!) has become effortless (I’ll just post a public status update). And, if the growth curve of this technology continues on it’s current path, and if we as a society become even more casual over our privacy, the ability to bi-socially broadcast ourselves to our own groups while sharing the experience with the actual human group at the concert may become seamless.