Technology Makes Us More Social

Yes, I still play Pokémon Go.

Today was a Community Day in Pokémon Go, basically a special event day with special critters and abilities available. My wife (who’s much more into this than I am) and I often go out together for these events, and inevitabilty run into other players while we’re out. Today at one point a woman came up to us to ask if we could assist her with a “research task” (basically a quest) and another fellow just chatted with us for a minute or so, asking what we’d found so far. Basically a couple of casual, low-key interactions between strangers brought together by an online event, who otherwise would have just walked past each other with probably not even a nod. And while I may never interact with these people again, the brief shared experience made playing the game just a bit more pleasant.

We read a lot about how tech makes us less likely to engage in “true” social behavior, and there is something to that, to be sure. But it also acts to enable old-fashioned, in-person interaction in ways we couldn’t before. The Younger Spawn, a pretty active late teenager, spends a fair amount of time online, but often not a a means to an end but as an enabler to planning outings with her friends (to be fair, I think she’s prefer a bit more in advance planning :) ) And while I don’t see as much firsthand as to how the Elder Spawn organizes her life, technology has certainly made keeping in touch with her much easier than when I was off at college. And to an extent that her friends find rather nice.

Even for us somewhat (ahem) older types, tech makes keeping in touch and getting together much easier than it was in years past. Personally I’d never want to go back to the pre-smartphone era!

So while there are legitimate concerns about how technology has changed social interactions, there are a lot of positive changes as well. Let’s not lose sight of that.

Written on February 16, 2019