Do the latest social networks encourage strong relationships or weak ones? Generally speaking, digital ties aren’t as powerful as the friendships and commitments we make in person.
Twitter and Facebook, when used together with other tools of human connectedness, can be extremely useful. Digital networks haven’t replaced physical togetherness and conversation, even if it sometimes feels that way. Yes, it is true that some people have effectively moved their entire lives online, and the media have for years covered every digital phenomenon, no matter how trivial.
Thankfully, however, the silly use of social networks is beginning to die down. What’s emerging in its place is a more intelligent and constructive view of the digital future, one that embraces the enormous promise of these technologies while accepting their limitations.
Twitter and Facebook aren’t going to save the world. But when used alongside other tools of human connectedness—including some very old ones, like the face-to-face conversations, meetings and protests that drove the civil rights movement in the USA—the new technologies can be extremely useful. We can learn a lot from our digital life and make real friends there. But if we never turn off the screen and don’t use those gains in our life, what use would they be?
Digital networking and more traditional forms of communication aren’t mutually exclusive—they feed into each other.
American writer Clay Shirky tells in his book Here Comes Everybody, about how, through the wonders of digital networking, a New Yorker recovered a lost cell phone. His book is full of stories about really important social and organizational change that was significantly helped along—if not entirely created—by the newer gadgets.
Change begins with great ideas. Shirky says that among the 50 or so people he follows on Twitter are the Dalai Lama and a community of Benedictine monks who make writing journals and other paper products with the intention of slowing down our over-busy minds. “When I pick up a valuable new thought on Twitter, I try to take it with me into the non-digital world, where we should all be spending more time these days,” he says. “That’s where the real revolutions happen.”
Professor Rheinghold, from Berkeley University, said about Twitter: “You have to learn how to make it add value rather than subtract hours from one’s day. Certainly, it may cause distraction. But it also makes possible the formation of forums called personal learning networks”. He explains that he values Twitter because of its openness, its immediacy, variety, reciprocity, its channel to multiple publics, its potential for allowing networks to become communities and the mass collaborations it enables.
The Web can be a labyrinth of abusive language and misinformation, but it can also be an accessible and inexpensive medium for community-building and political activism. The difference lies not in the technology but in the literacy—know-how is the critical difference.
Those who gain the know-how to transform networks into movements might gain the keys to power—for better or worse—in coming decades.
Text adapted from The New York Times (September 30, 2010)
- commitment: compromís / compromiso
- connectedness: relació, comunicació / relación, comunicación
- to embrace: incloure, abraçar / incluir, abarcar
- to drive: moure, impulsar / mover, impulsar
- gain: guany / ganancia
- know-how: coneixements, experiència / conocimientos, experiencia
Reading comprehensionChoose the best answer according to the text. Only ONE answer is possible.
1. The author…
- prefers personal relationships to digital ties.
- thinks digital ties have destroyed personal conversation and commitment.
- is against friendships made through the networks.
- thinks personal friendships are stronger than those made through the net.
- excellent communication and togetherness.
- the power of bringing people together in forums of discussion and protest.
- very old forms of communicating.
- how the world could be saved by protesting.
- if they are used alongside traditional forms of communication.
- whenever they are connected with one another.
- because they have been replaced by human togetherness.
- because the digital phenomenon is a true religion.
- combine the best of both worlds by bringing our digital world onto our real one.
- use the new technologies to make more and more friends.
- never turn off the screen on our computer.
- expand networking and exclude traditional forms of communication.
- in the digital world.
- among those who learn to live a more peaceful life.
- in the non-digital world.
- among the followers of wise men.
- He thinks Twitter is more open than any other network.
- He considers it to be useless and that it takes a lot of your time.
- He likes it because it is the best way for communicating.
- He finds it valuable if you know how to extract its benefits.
- it is impossible to tell what is good from what is bad on the net.
- there is too much information on the net.
- only those who control the net will be successful in the world.
- the Internet may become the most powerful political tool in the future.