The idea of modern technology being used to enhance communication and connectivity is nothing new. However, it’s also true that we’ve often looked at technology as something that’s making us increasingly introverted. Many of us would rather stream content in our living rooms than go out and see a movie or attend a sporting event; we interact through devices, keeping tabs on friends as if they’re news sources rather than going out and spending time with them; and increasingly, even young children are introduced to the wonders of tech-based gaming as an alternative to action figures, play dates, or running around outside.
These are all very real developments (and, to many, concerns). However, there’s another side to our increasingly tech-centric world. Just as modern technology has introduced more ways to become introverted, it’s also provided tools and trends aimed at making society more communal. Just consider some of the following examples.
In fitness, we’ve perhaps seen the most noteworthy transition away from introversion thanks to technology. Historically, working out has often been viewed as an individual activity. Sure, you might have a gym buddy, or you might play organized sports or take part in classes. But at the end of the day, you’re working on your own body, at your own pace, on your own schedule, and with only your goals in mind. That will always be true at least to some extent, but thanks to the advent of wearable fitness-tracking technology, we’re increasingly seeing a social component to exercise.
The way that these fitness trackers can connect to social media platforms to post accomplishments and facilitate encouragement and competition has been described as an ability to tap into the power of your friends. And for many, it’s invaluable. With a FitBit or some comparable fitness tracker, you can truly spark a semi-automated conversation with other users, recording your data, viewing theirs, and ultimately putting together a supportive social network that revolves around your exercise habits. This simply wasn’t possible before wearable tracking technology.
Interactive Online Gaming
Online multiplayer gaming has been around for many years now, both on popular consoles and PCs. But in the last, say, five years, we’ve also seen an extraordinary rise in the number of different ways gamers can interact with one another even through mobile devices. Not only do mobile games have social components such as lists of high scores and accomplishments recorded in public forums, they now involve direct, real-time competition, and even chat features in some instances.
These developments have completely altered our outlook on gaming. Where once it was private and insulated, now it is public and social—and getting more so by the day, it seems. One of the more recent developments has even gone so far as to effectively invent a new sort of video game entertainment. Offering players the option to choose from a number of “chat games,” it takes concepts like I Spy, basic trivia, and even mathematics and uses them to create new interactive online experiences.
Social Interest Apps
Perhaps most interesting of all the modern tech trends leading to a more communal society is that there have been a lot of apps designed simply to enhance existing social activities. You might think first of things as simple as Foursquare, Twitter, and status updates, all of which have provided people with quick and easy ways to alert friends about their whereabouts and activities. But there are some examples that facilitate social interaction even more directly (besides just dating apps).
For instance, one app for beer lovers and bar enthusiasts provides a means of sharing drinking activities with friends, basically by recording interests and experiences. With the app you can record your favorite drinks and spots, see what friends recommend, and easily let like-minded friends know where you are and what you’re up to. It doubles as a tool to provide you with social input for what you might want to do on a given night and a communication method for when you’re already out.
These are only a few of many examples of how modern technology is actually making us more social. It’s still true that there are aspects of technology that encourage introversion, but it’s hard to deny that our sense of communal engagement has been enhanced at the same time.