The blog as a social tool
Thursday, September 5th, 2002
A BT-funded study of mobile telephone use says that “gossip” accounts for 2/3 of human conversation, and then looks at the mobile phone as a gossip tool. Plenty of observations can be ported to blogs. I’ll quote just a couple here:
Texting [SMS] is particularly important in maintaining contact with a wide social network – allows us to maintain social bonds even when we do not have the time, energy, inclination or budget for calls or visits. Texting re-creates the brief, frequent, spontaneous ‘connections’ with members of our social network that characterised the small communities of pre-industrial times.
In the fast-paced and fragmented modern world, social bonding through gossip becomes even more important – but also more difficult. We no longer live in the kind of small, close-knit tribes or communities for which we are ‘designed’ by our evolutionary heritage, where we would naturally be in daily contact with the members of our social network. Our Pleistocene hunter-gatherer brains, hard-wired for constant grooming-talk with a tightly integrated kinship and friendship network, are struggling to cope with the social isolation of modern urban life. Most of us no longer enjoy the cosiness of a gossip over the garden fence. We may not even know our neighbours’ names, and communication is often limited to a brief, slightly embarrassed nod, if that.
Telephones have helped to alleviate some of the stresses caused by fragmented modern lifestyles, but before the advent of mobiles most of us were severely restricted in both the quantity and quality of communication with our social network.
Just as a cellular phone is portable in space, a blog is portable in time — it waits patiently for new users to come along and then imparts our message. (Found in the October issue of The Atlantic.)