I was fortunate to meet at least ten people over Christmas who did not have a social networking ID of any kind. More so, I managed to meet at least five people to whom I had to explain in the most basic terms what social networking was. As a marketing tool they understood the concept but as a means to communicating socially they were completely baffled. It was beautiful to be in the presence of each and every one of them.
They were of a variety of ages (23 - 56, although I think the last one is telling porkies as they seem to remember the 40s???), from all manner of backgrounds and all extremely well educated in life. However, they had more about them than the average person. As I watched them they were extremely present in their surroundings. They all noticed people and they all smiled when making eye contact. Most importantly they endeavoured to make eye contact with strangers - Sacrebleu!!
It could just be that I was fortunate to meet some very captivating individuals but I think not. Having spoken about their hobbies and lifestyles I noticed trends also. They all asked how I felt, they checked in to read my body language, they were excited and interested in responses. I must also highlight that some of these people were complete strangers who I know I will never meet again so there was no vested interest in out meeting or in charming me.
These people were people of people! They all had some very close friends and were comfortable in their own skin. Photographs were taken as genuine memories of situations and none of them changed their overall physicality to pose for a perfect shot. They were not distracted in your company other than to occasionally check a watch if they had somewhere else to be shortly.
I then compared this to some other encounters I had: people texting whilst listening to me; conversations about status updates; looking at photos of strangers for no apparent reason. Have we forgone appreciating the people we are with for thinking about other (usually irrelevant at that moment) people.
This then shifted my thoughts to audiences. No wonder they are shifty characters with short attention spans and no wonder they have lost the ability to really read situations as their presence is being torn between where they are and the pull of this virtual world. It would be wonderful if there came a trend of updating your status to 'been at a dance show' and people competed with their virtual peers as audience numbers would boom. However, is there a point in the audience being there if it just to say to a bunch of faceless busy bodies 'I was there'? Financially of course but artistically I think not.
For me, art is about people and purpose but in a world where people are becoming essentially purposeless (or their purpose is to appear to have purpose by looking busy) art is surely a dying form? As such I dare you all to switch off for a month. Could you? And when you do how many people will say 'you haven't been online for a while?' if it is at least three I would being to question why you are online and what the price really is?