Antisocial is the new social
It used to be if you buried your nose in a newspaper or book while in company you’d get told off for being antisocial.
Now you’ll do well to observe a social gathering where at least one person isn’t thumbing their way through an internet-enabled device, ignoring the people in their immediate vicinity.
More worrying still is the fact that this sort of antisocial activity is seen by many as progress.
You have to admire the warped logic whereby it’s acceptable to scan a newspaper on your iPad while in polite company, but it’s frowned upon to take shelter behind a broadsheet. Likewise it’s fine to read a book in lieu of making conversation provided that you’re doing so on a Kindle.
Of course, the main reason many of us rely so heavily on our smart technology and is to stay ‘in touch’ via social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Whoever coined the term ‘social networking’ must have done so with their tongue planted firmly in their cheek.
I shouldn’t complain too much because I’m a regular visitor on both Facebook and Twitter. But what I will say is, while there is much to be admired about the facilitation of communications these sites have provided, there’s only so many ‘mystery meat’ jokes I can stomach of an afternoon.
Set against the backdrop of technological advance, activities that would previously have been frowned upon as being antisocial are now elitist forms of socialising.
What irks me most about our enhanced powers of sociability is when you’re out for a night with someone and they spend most of the evening checking their phone.
They might as well say to you, “Although I really enjoy spending time with you, there are some even cooler people online right now and I need to know where they are and what they’re doing.”
Technological advances has also helped the world of gaming shrug its antisocial status.
Games consoles like the Sega Megadrive used to be regarded as brain-rotting solo pursuits, but not so anymore. Now, thanks to the Xbox and its buddies, you can play games live with people on the other side of the world.
Better still, if you have the necessary equipment you can chat to the person in China who is thrashing you at Pro Evolution Soccer while your little brother is waiting outside in the rain with a slowly deflating football.
In the midst of all this antisocial behaviour, stands television, the last bastion of sociability.
Good old TV. For years it has been at the centre of family life, entertaining, educating and providing an artificial light in living rooms.
When John Logie Baird first introduced television to the masses it was not uncommon for four generations of the same family to congregate in the same room to watch a chat show with no guests.
Not much has changed as TV remains a focal point for families to gather around and throw metaphorical eggs at Simon Cowell and his disciples.
Sadly, even television looks as if it’s becoming an antisocial pursuit with the advent of multiroom TV and the fact that more and more people are now watching programmes on their laptops.
I have a mate who thinks that owning cutting edge technology gives him carte blanche to be self-indulgently antisocial. I pulled him up on it recently. Here’s how the conversation went...
Me: “You think that owning cutting edge technology gives you carte blanche to be self-indulgently antisocial.”
Him: “Do you mind. I’m in the middle of a Skype call.”
Me: “I rest my case. You have a disease, you know. You should see a doctor about it.”
Him: “I already have.”
Me: “Very good. And what did he prescribe?”
Him: “He gave me a special tablet.”
Me: “Really? What’s it called.”
Him: “A Samsung Galaxy.”
The answer to last week’s teaser was: Stevie has four daughters and three sons. Each daughter has as many sisters as she has brothers (three sisters and three brothers) and each brother has twice as many sisters as brothers (four sisters and two brothers).
Here’s this week’s teaser: A man from San Francisco is running across a field at night clutching something in his arms as several other men pursue him. He looks back and sees they’re getting closer. In a final burst of effort his pursuers catch up and bring him crashing to the ground. His pursuers stand over him but do not touch him or take what he was carrying. Why not? Who was the running man?