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Digital and Social

"Get real" about your connections

We're hearing all the time how no one really talks anymore because we'd rather look at our screens than each other.  MIT professor Sherry Turkle says some kids are trying to do both and learning how to maintain eye contact with someone while texting someone else.

"The Flight from Conversation", The New York Times, April 21st


Turkle's book "Alone Together: Why We expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other"

A recent study says more young people are even giving up a drivers license when they turn 16 because why should they drive to see friends when they can Facebook or Skype them? In 1983, 69% of 17 year olds had a drivers license but in 2008, it fell to 50%. Among 20-24 year olds, it went from 92% to 83% 25 years later.

"Driving is becoming so last century."  The Associated Press, April 6th

Why's this important? Because being connected doesn't always provide us with the human connections we crave. In a USA Today piece, the authors of a new book called "The Face-toFace Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace" say 75% of conversations (in the US) still happen face to face, and that the rise of social media has led to a reduction in mostly" email conversations". They say we talk about what's 'cool' online and about real life experiences when we're physically together.

This doesn't mean it has to be all or nothing! Put those online connections to work. Try a tweet up, Meetup or something really new.

Are you into food? The Meetup equivalent is grubwithus.com where you join groups and see what "social meals" are scheduled at your local restaurants. Culturekitchen.com features underprivileged women who are master chefs of a particular ethnic cuisine. You go into their home and learn to cook the real thing (from Ukranian to Thai).

Travel and activities
Find something new to do with others on Vayable and give "drinking whiskey on wheels" a try. It's a way for locals to share their expertise (and get paid for it) which means your guide of the Farmers Market is someone who actually goes to it. Airbnb is similar but where people share their home (boat or castle) for a price.

Want to go international?
Wander is an iPhone app that connects you with 'pen pals' by using Instagram (30 million users worldwide). You post a picture of the Caltrain in Palo Alto, California and your pen pal posts a picture of a train in Korea. After a week learning one person's culture, you move on to a new friend.

More mobile platforms
If you're open about your whereabouts, Arrived notifies friends when you've arrived at a meeting or a ball game. (No checkins required.) And Highlight notifies YOU if another Highlight user is within a football field or so of your location. The closer a person is, and the more interests, friends or history you have in common, the more likely you'll be notified.

Remember, life is all about balance. We either use our time online to enrich our lives or it's time spent just looking at a screen. I'll be trying out grubwithus and Vayable soon and will write about my experiences. I appreciate all your comments!

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