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How Social Media Makes Us Unsocial: Allison Graham (Transcript)

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Allison Graham at TEDxSMU

Full text of Social Media historian Allison Graham’s talk: How Social Media Makes Us Unsocial at TEDxSMU conference. In this talk, she shares the funny and revealing insights of a life lived online and how social media is used to connect and disconnect us.

Best quote from this talk: 

“I think we would all live life better if we had hands to hold rather than keys to click.”

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: How social media makes us unsocial by Allison Graham

TRANSCRIPT: 

Allison Graham – Social Media historian

Hi! Thank you very much.

I’d like to start out by asking everyone to power down their devices during my talk. And for those of you that don’t know the power buttons, it’s either on the top or on the side of your phone.

I’d also like to thank the guys from state.com for permission to use this video.

[Video clip]

“I want to post about how great this coffee is, but I can’t think of a funny way to say it.”

“This post is like a page long. How do I shorten this?”

“Just take out all the vowels.” [Still be the other page]

“Seriously!”

“Hey guys, you on Twitter? Follow me.”

“Sometimes I want to move to another country where I won’t have to deal with this stuff.”

(in foreign language) “SHHH.. I am working on a Tweet!” “Does this seem too much like I’m bragging?”

“Hashtag I quit. Just kidding.”

“Hashtag multitasking!”

“Hashtag squirmwork!”

“Hashtag road trip dude” “Not while you’re driving, man”

“Hashtag Yolo”

“Is anybody even gonna read this?”

“Basti!” “Copy friends?” “Unsubscribe” “Mini-bagels” xxxx

“What’s up Facebook!”

“How are my new shoes?”

“Unfollow”

“I love coffee!”

“We are doing virals”

“Driving selfie”

“Desert” “Food world” “Nobody cares”

“I’d all of you”

“Dude! I made the popular page.”

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[Video clip concludes]

So I want to talk about three things tonight:

  • How social media is disconnecting us.
  • What’s happening now, and
  • How we can do better.

Gallup took a poll in 2001 and every average American said that they had ten really close friends. The same poll this year said we had two.

So what happened? Where did everybody go? And I think we know where.

I think we’ve all seen this by now. Maybe even been a little guilty of it ourselves. I see families like this out to dinner all the time, and it drives me nuts. And I see couples on dates clearly together, but on their cell phones.

It’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen.

But to me what does this say when we are together?

To me it says that there’s someone, anyone on the other end of the screen that’s way more important than you, who’s right in front of my face.

There’s a study by Mary Meeker that says: We touch our phones or check our phones 150 times a day. And we upload 1.8 billion pictures to Facebook. That’s a little over a sixth of the population a day for pictures.

Remember when the Internet was new? Those of us that do. That was really, actually only about 25 years ago, if you can imagine.

I remember, when we had pagers, times seemed a little simpler back then. You’d get the beep. You may return the call, you may not return the call.

Or when we had answer machines, you could always say that you weren’t home. Now we have a list of all these excuses that may or may not work.

But it seems like the more we talk about how technology divides us, the more we demand from it. And I think that’s a huge risk that we’re running in our society today.

We have this shortened vocabulary now. It’s all about the texting. Even my mom! She says, ‘Just text me!’ And she’s a little bit older. I won’t say her age because she’ll see this later.

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So..

  • OMG – Oh my goodness
  • LOLLaugh out loud
  • WTFWhy the face

So when we abbreviate our vocabulary what we risk is losing the nuances, subtleties and intimate parts of our personalities that make up our very rich American vocabulary. And with that shortening, we lose and run the risk of not being able to fully express ourselves and communicate, as we move forward.

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