Is Social Media an Impediment to Problem Solving?
As I was roaming through the blogsphere, catching up on some of the news and notes I have missed in recent weeks, I read one of Jeremy Zawondy’s recent blog posts addressing a very similar topic. He poses the question does the convenience of having access to someone with answers inhibit people from thinking about and solving their own problems, when they know a quick email, twit, or IM will get them the answer without them having to make any real effort?
Many of the new Social Media websites seem to encourage this type of behavior. More specifically I am starting to see this type of behavior a lot on Twitter. I am not sure whether or not it is the law of averages or maybe even just the company I keep on the service? Maybe I interact with too many online marketers?
But it seems like as the list of people I follow grows, more and more I am seeing requests for superfluous information that could quickly be ascertained on their own in the same amount of time it would take someone else to twit back.
So the real question is with all this accessibility to others with knowledge, are people slowly losing the desire to solve their own problems? And does this loss of desire lead to a future lack of critical thinking when it does come to solving the more challenging questions? Or is it just my imagination? Is it useful to leverage social media when you need to remember the name of that search expert who wrote that book about online reputation management? What was his name again?
On that note, it seems to me the answer is yes, social media is enabling people to abandon their searching, critical thinking, and problem solving skills in favor of allowing their peers to assist them. I support this conclusion not only based on my own personal experience but also based on the types of technologies currently being produced. Social technologies like Twitter, Yahoo Answers, and even many online forums have become breeding grounds for these types of less than lack luster communications, yet many people are willing to answer these types of questions to feel helpful, join the conversation, or establish their own credentials.
So it seems to me social media is not only a facilitator for this type of interaction, in many cases it also encourages it. What do you think, is social media slowly impairing our problem solving skills? Or is this just one of the many little inherent negatives that goes along with all the positives social media has to offer?