Just take a good look around and soak up the changing social atmosphere. One person has their nose pressed against the text screen, stumbles— and continues walking; someone else is posting a “selfie” up on Instagram from their tablet; and a third just opened their laptop to see if that girl ever messaged him back on OkCupid.
Gone are the days of playing “kick the can” with the neighborhood kids. Scratch that idea altogether; we now have LAN parties and order pizza online. Need a date? Blind dates are now messaging sprees within online dating sites. Networking for a job is now less about word of mouth tips, and more about going online to connect via LinkedIn.
If one thing is clear: digital technology is creating a world of offline introverts and online extraverts.
Susan Cain, a writer for TIME Magazine said it perfectly: “A wired world can be alienating… When we bathe in the blue light of our gadgets, we’re doing many things: surfing, working, gaming and, yes, tuning out the world.”
Today’s world didn’t exist 10 or 15 years ago; and it certainly didn’t happen overnight. Like a well-oiled assembly machine, digital technology is mass-producing a society of introverts.
Let’s look at the facts:
Socializing via Facebook
I’ve heard many people say, “Something hasn’t really happened if it’s not on Facebook.” From relationship status changes, check-ins at various locations, or photo-ops with friends— our social lives are constantly being documented online. More and more, it’s becoming hard to determine how much of this is merely “sharing” and how much is really interacting for the sake of displaying activity via online social sites.
According to a 2012 report by Global Recruiting Roundtable:
- Facebook is responsible for 20% of all U.S. Internet traffic
- On average 398 million users were active on Facebook at least six out of seven days
- There are 901 million monthly active users
- Facebook is available in more than 70 languages
- 300 million photos are uploaded per day
- Users are registering 3.2 billion “likes” and “comments” per day
Remember that line from “The Shining:” “All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy”? Between long work hours and other daily commitments, sometimes there isn’t enough time to go out to find romance. To compensate, many people are seeking the online route.
Match, OkCupid, eHarmony, Christian Mingle, and Plenty of Fish are just a few of the most popular dating sites.
According to a report on examiner.com:
- Twice as many couples met through online dating sites than at social events, bars and clubs combined
- One in six marriages & one in five committed relationships have been among those who connected via online dating
Networking on LinkedIn.com
LinkedIn is the top online resource for online networking. They provide valuable information about job hunting, applying and other career-based resources. LinkedIn unifies millions of users into one online platform, with one key agenda in mind—networking. Word of mouth channels simply aren’t as effective.
According to a 2013 report by Global Recruiting Roundtable:
- LinkedIn has 200 million members worldwide
- Over 2.8 million businesses have a LinkedIn company page
- 50 million unique visitors visit LinkedIn.com each week
- The average LinkedIn user spends 7 minutes and 22 seconds each time they go on the site
Many colleges are now offering online courses. Instead of going on campus, students are able to take courses without ever meeting their fellow classmates or professors. Through online components, such as Blackboard (a comprehensive online education platform), teachers/professors are able to keep their students informed, involved and collaborating together.
According to the Blackboard site, “Through our course management systems, services, and expertise, we work with clients to build a better education experience.”
Better— at least to Blackboard, definitely refers to the online course option. With so many schedules and commitments, online courses have become a popular and accommodating resource for many students.
We have entered a true digital revolution. Traditional social outlets have been outgrown—replaced by a world that orbits around the fast, online methods of communication. Our time spent online, fuels us with tons of accessible information—and ways to spread our ideas and daily whereabouts to the masses. In turn, the 21st century has become the time for the online extraverts and offline introverts.
Guest contributor Andrea Fisher is an online marketer and content specialist from North Carolina. She currently works with DTV, which offers satellite packages online. She is a published journalist & blogger with an English degree and political science minor from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.