“What would you do if you woke up tomorrow and there was no more Internet or texting?” your mother asks you with your face buried in your phone. She, like every generation before her, has a strange superiority complex about growing up without the luxuries of the current time period—just like her grandmother felt about air travel and her mother felt about television.
“Young people don’t know how great they have it!” they say. “No one can communicate anymore!” Contrary to popular belief, there are still plenty of great, young communicators who believe that Twitter isn’t one of the four horsemen of the human-relationship apocalypse, but even we have to wonder what life would be like without our beloved social networking.
The first thing we think of when picturing waking up in a world without Facebook is a bunch of young kids walking outside and blinking dramatically at the previously-unknown sun. After all, in an age where there are training potties with built-in iPad holders, it’s obvious that kids are more likely to be playing with two-dimensional images and touch screens than building blocks or baseballs. According to Lies, Damned Lies, & Statistics, 58% of two- to five-year-olds can play basic computer games, while only 48% of kids that age can ride a bike. While the general consensus among parents is that it would be refreshing to see more tree climbing and less Face timing, a lack of social networking would actually raise awareness of just how educational and useful it can be—which tends to get lost in discussions of how detrimental it is to our social development. As InfoWorld points out, parents today have the advantage of seeing what their kids are really up to, which previous generations never had the chance to do. Plus, without Facebook, parents wouldn’t have support networks like “One Million Moms.”
What else can we envision when thinking of a world without likes, shares, and up-votes? Well, let’s put it this way: there’s a theory that if the world’s wealth were distributed evenly tomorrow, ten years from now, those who were once rich would be rich again, and those who were poor would be poor. Some people are just more inclined to save and enterprise, so they always will, no matter the circumstances. On the same note, if we woke up tomorrow and there were no platforms to tweet or ‘gram, it would be short-lived. A new “new” method of communicating and interacting would appear, engineered by the same kinds of people who made Tinder, Facebook, et al. We would not regress to a “simpler time” of handwritten letters or boombox-under-bedroom-window serenades, but rather, advance in new ways. Social networks tap into human nature, allowing us to indulge in our own self-interestedness. That facet of humanity will never disappear just because our most-used methods of catering to it did.
So, maybe mom is right: We have become dependent upon our social networks for constant reassurance and validation that we are just as cool and interesting with each new status post or picture upload as we were with the previous one. While we are used to the platforms we currently use to accomplish this, in their absence, we would just as easily find ourselves used to something else.
Contributor: Kayla Bibeau
– From the writers at Splitforce, A/B Testing for Mobile Apps