Response to Eric’s comment and stuff friends expressed online (with New Media, of course)…
Well, crap, now you’re expecting me to think and stuff. I think New Media do remediate social skills in some ways, much the way tools can increase reach or torque. You still have to have the skills and be able to imagine what you want to accomplish, but you can apply the skills better and easier with more opportunities to exercise imagination.
For example, I think an introvert with empathy can express social skills better through new media because it takes less social energy to employ said skills. Also, the opportunity to take time to formulate and edit thoughts and ideas before publishing them takes some stress away (unless you are paralyzed by perfectionism). Combine those things with the fact that even a quiet person can design a message loud enough to be “heard” in new media, it’s no surprise that contemplative people are drawn to it and are doing wonderfully creative things, as well as discovering a social side they didn’t know they had before.
A person lacking in empathy might still struggle with the more social aspects of new media because, like any tools, they can only do so much. Until there is a spellcheck sort of feature that warns us about insensitive wording or lack of emotional appeal/connection that will remain a limiting factor. Assuming, of course, the goal is to build connections or increase awareness or bring together folks with common interests. If the goal is pissing people off, trolls will have as much or more success with social media as the rest of us.
That said, some who struggle with empathy or connection benefit from new media, too, because of the opportunity to formulate and edit the message and to communicate with such a variety of tools in combination…prose-poetry-audio-visual-representational-abstract-bitmap-vector and on and on. Who wouldn’t benefit from that? New Media can be a lot more inclusive. (Setting aside for the moment the fact that there is a learning curve and a financial block. So, if everyone has free public access to New Media and lessons on how to start using it, it can be more inclusive than anything which came before.)
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