What is techno-social life?

Human experience is at the same time technologically infused and highly social. Life is techno-social in the fullest sense of the word.

In this book, and in all my work, I hyphenate the word to call equal attention to both the technological and the social and their equivalent importance in the examination and understanding of modern life. The technological and the social are in intimate interaction, constantly influencing one another. Both sides of the hyphen are equally important and central to the study of life in the digital age.

My new book Superconnected explores the techno-social in a wide-ranging way, from the micro to the macro — from the urges individuals can feel to stay in near-constant contact with friends online, to the ways that social media is utilized by groups, organizations, and governments.  Contrary to fears that political and civic engagement is dying or dead in modern life, it remains very much alive. Social media routinely prompts face-to-face interaction, and encourages political participation.

Of course, reaching out to others on social media is not the same as doing so face-to-face, and can induce what has been called slacktivism or hashtag activism — the substitution of talking about doing something (especially on social media) for actually doing something face-to-face. But using social social media to organize collective efforts can be quite productive indeed, and the most effective movements blend online and offline efforts.

Social life – living in tandem with others, in relationships, in families, in communities – is among the aspects of people’s lives most profoundly changed when information and communication technology enters the equation.  By bringing people into one another’s awareness, allowing them to discover commonalities, and providing the means by which they can contact one another, the internet and digital media contribute mightily to the “techno-social life” that Superconnected explores.

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