Networked individualism is reshaping social interaction as we renegotiate the balance between the one and the many
OUR social relationships are changing and technology is at the centre of this unfolding story.
Take stock of your own world. You probably have a few family members and friends who mean the world to you. Then there are the many acquaintances, contacts, “followers” and “consequential strangers” who you only interact with occasionally but who serve useful purposes when you have questions, need to make decisions or require a helping hand.
Your ties to all of them, especially those in the outer reaches of your network, are increasingly mediated through digital technology – from email to Facebook to Skype calls.
This new social operating system has been emerging for several generations but has accelerated in growth thanks to the recent triple revolution: the widespread adoption of broadband, ubiquitous mobile connectivity and the move from bounded groups – largely closed circles of interlinked contacts – to multiple social networks.
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With such a fundamental social shift linked to still-developing technology, how it unfolds needs to be considered. We think there are two possible scenarios.