Posted July 5, 2010 8:53 am by with 10 comments

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Assuming we are granted seeing the next 10 years unfold, how will the Internet impact your life and in particular your social interactions?

According to ‘experts’ (overused and often undeserved title alert!) a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, life is gonna be good because of the social web. Honestly, since most of these folks probably depend on the Internet to make a living are they going to say anything else?

The study revealed

The social benefits of internet use will far outweigh the negatives over the next decade, according to experts. They say this is because email, social networks, and other online tools offer “low friction” opportunities to create, enhance, and rediscover social ties that make a difference in people’s lives. The internet lowers traditional communications constraints of cost, geography, and time; and it supports the type of open information sharing that brings people together.

While they acknowledge that use of the internet as a tool for communications can yield both positive and negative effects, a significant majority of technology experts and stakeholders participating in the fourth Future of the Internet survey say it improves social relations and will continue to do so through 2020.

For me I can’t tell what’s going to happen because how this all looks in 10 years will likely be very different and we have yet to feel the actual impact of the social web on life as we know it. We are experiencing it as a group for the first time over the past 5 years on a much larger scale and really everyone is just getting their feet wet at this point. It’s too early in the game to tell if what has happened is actually good or bad. Right now it just ‘is’.

One piece of terminology I found interesting is the idea of “low friction” opportunities. To me this implies a more ‘surfacey’ interaction and it rings a little hollow. I say that in a cautionary manner because it looks like we are quickly diluting what true interaction is as evidenced by “online activism” that simply requires someone to like something or join an online group to check off that they ‘did something’ about a matter of importance. Imagine if millions of people checked a box in support of a great cause and let it go at that. No matter what the issue people need to get their hands dirty to really enact change. “Low friction” interactions don’t seem to create that urgency. Just my opinion, of course.

So let’s continue Pew’s work and chime in as to how you see the new world social interaction impacting your life over the next ten years. What might it look like? Will it be good or otherwise?

  • That’s a pretty thought provoking post and study, Frank.

    Will my life be better in 10 yrs because of the nterwebz? I’m optimistic that it will. One aspect that I feel that I’ll need to manage carefully is spreading myself too thin across networking sites. Also, I want to keep from being too involved in those networking sites that I’m not living life, if that makes sense. As with anything, you’ve got to find the right balance.

    I’ll be interested in hearing what the other commenters have to say.

  • Very interesting discussion you started here, Frank.

    If the next 10 years are like the past 10 years, then I can easily say “yes” that my relationships will be better because of the web. Because of my past careers, I literally have friends all over the world. If it weren’t for social media sites on the web I would not be able to keep up with everyone as easily as I can now. To be sure, some of those relationships are “low friction” but the connection is there nonetheless.

    The added benefit is that I get to meet people I might never have had an opportunity to meet. I certainly wouldn’t be able to be in this discussion with you without this blog being available on the web.

    Sheila: Very good advice. We can’t let online take over, either. Those “in real life” relationships and experiences are also critical to our well being. Finding the right balance is the key.

  • To avoid the negative effects of internet, I still have communications with my clients through offline marketing. Therefore, I combine my online marketing or business with the traditional marketing. We still need to have personal contact with your clients.

  • With the advent of more health care on the Internet, this will definitely change most of our lives.

  • The scary(incredible?) thing about the internet is how much access to content we have now compared with 10 years ago. And some of that content is simply brilliant. Whatever form the internet takes in 10 years we are going to be connected 24/7 everywhere we go. How will we be able to distill the content in a meaningful way? I have a web design company in Adelaide South Australia and try everyday to keep up with just the essential info in my industry.

  • i agree with Elmer
    Even though it is difficult to imagine the life in 10 years because a lot of things are going to change, now i can tell that thanks to the web and social networks you create bonds all over the world that you, most likely, would not have created without the internet.
    But do not neglect real relationship/friendship either, it is important !

  • LCD

    It’s all in how you use the internet.

    Will everyone’s lives be better b/c of the internet? Absolutely not.

    But, I’m optimistic that the majority will be better off.

  • Ali
  • Leo

    Well I personally don’t think so, anyway who cares we’ll all be dead in 2 years 🙂

    The “evolution” is pushing everybody towards a more selfish attitude, and even if we “connect” more thanks to social media, we have less real interaction with people.

    It reminds me a bit of a seaquest episode where they time-travel in the future and there’s only 2 kids left on earth and they are battling it our using giant robots (or something along those lines). This was 15 years ago, but it’s the path we are taking. We can – almost – live full time at home and doing everything online, from shopping to “meeting” people!

  • Sephy Hambaz

    Life was fine before the internet and cell phones so…