I’m not the first to ask this question. Most of what I read answers this question with a resounding yes, social media is making us antisocial. I disagree but give me a minute to explain.
Human Nature Hasn’t Changed—Much
Last week I took an unscientific survey of the TKO Graphix upstairs breakroom at lunch over a three day period. More than 80 percent of the employees in the room were on their phones. At one table six of the seven teammates dining shoulder-to-shoulder were on their phones. You might be thinking, now wait a minute Randy, I thought you said social media wasn’t making us antisocial, what gives?
Have you ever taken the subway, NYC, Atlanta, London? When you do, you’ll find the vast majority of the commuters on devices. However, if you were to view photos of the same trains 50 years ago, before devices, you’d see commuter after commuter buried in print—newspapers, magazines, and books.
My point is social media hasn’t changed man and womankind into some new antisocial creature. We haven’t suddenly morphed into Homo Antisocialus. People have always had antisocial tendencies, some more than others, but why is that? Good question.
I researched antisocial behavior and found varied as well as opposing opinions from the scientific community. I found no definitive answer, so I asked myself, am I antisocial and if so why?
Generally I’m not, I’m closer to being obnoxious and space invading than antisocial, but I do have my moments. When I find myself drawing inward it’s often self-protection. It’s fear. Fear of being found out for the charlatan I am. Fear of not seeming smart enough, funny enough, caring enough, charming enough or? It doesn’t matter what particular fear drives the behavior, it’s the knowledge that it’s driven by fear that’s important.
How to Overcome Antisocial Behavior
- Recognize your fear and set it aside. Most of our fears around people are based on worries about what they will think of us. The truth is most people could give a care. They’re not thinking about you. They’re thinking about themselves.
- Turn off your device (or put down your book). Turn it off during meetings, conferences, and one-on-ones. Anytime you’re engaged with others turn off your device or better yet leave it in the other room. And don’t think you can sneak a peek. Come on man, we all know what you’re doing. Turn. It. Off.
- You’ll live without a ping-zing. You know that little spark of adrenaline when a new ping comes in? That validation that you’re liked and wanted. Well here’s the truth, it’s not real, and once you realize that, you can live without it. You don’t need a ping-zing rush as a testament to your worthiness.
- Plan Face-to-face time. Plan time to be with friends, go to a networking event, or just hang out with your partner and talk. No phones or books only you and others conversing in real time, in real life.
Are you Antisocial?
I‘m one of the least antisocial people I know, but like I said I have my moments. So, yes sometimes I’m antisocial. The key for me is to understand it. Face my fears, turn off my devices, set down my book, and say hello.
Hello, how are you this fine day?