Robert Putham wrote book several years ago titled “Bowling Alone” where he examined the deconstruction of society and community as a product of the rise of the digital age. Putham’s analysis looked at the how there has been a decline in attendance at civic events, group outings and the like in recent years which has resulted a loss of social capital. Overall It’s a pretty long and painful read that will most likely make you worry about society and the world we live in but Putham does have a good point. People don’t go bowling every Monday with their co-workers or Euchre on Wednesday with the neighbors. Society has changed, drastically.
I’ve become fascinated with research about social media and social networking and what implications that has on society and community and the world. It is amazing how while people don’t meet for the neighborhood watch they will log into the internet and start and entirely new type of community.
I stumbled across this lecture by Mike Welsh, an anthropology professor at Kansas State University, and was absolutely floored by huge impact that YouTube alone has created of society across the globe. Its 50 minutes long but defiantly worth listening to if you are curious.
One example Welsh gives is the song “Soulja Boy” that hit the top of the billboard last year. Now honestly I really hate Soulja boy, it’s annoying, and the dance is ridiculous, but when you get right to the heart of it, it is kinda catchy.
Soulja boy was created by a 16 YEAR OLD BOY using digital sound looping software and posted on youtube. Following that dozens, hundreds, and thousands of people copied, remade, and satirized the video posting their responses to youtube. Eventually Soulja Boy was picked up by a record label and was nominated last year for a Grammy… How crazy is that.
Youtube is has become an outlet, a ground for discussion, a home for creativity, and a community for those who participate. Just like… myspace, facebook, twitter, blogs, etc…
So really who’s to stay that community is declining, its certainly changing and who knows what it will become.
(P.S. All of the Links go to YouTube)