I say ‘tough' because it's not a 10,000 foot view. Herd (How to change mass behaviour by harnessing our true nature) is a complex book that thoroughly details a plethora of studies and data to come up with its core premise. As well, Mark Earls is not your average business book author – reading his book makes me feel like I'm reading a book that's totally out of my league (it really is!). If you're an intellectual and appreciate deep, deep thinking and the supporting criteria – this is your book.
If you're faking it like me, it's a great book as well. 🙂 I might mutilate some of the rich content by writing about it here, but what the heck! I'm going for it.
One topic that Mark touches on is depression. Mark mentions two common causes of depression – a parents' relationship with their child and a person's relationships with other people. I can't help but wonder if Social Media isn't the best alternative to Prozac for curing social ills such as depression. Social Media brings a promise of connecting with others that aren't outside your local circle at home, the office, or even in your neighborhood.
Twitter, WordPress, Facebook, Gather, online Games… all of these applications aren't simply ‘Web 2.0', they are means of communicating with one another. No wonder why social applications are so popular. Isn't it much easier to open up to people with the safety of the Internet between us?
At a conference a few months ago, I remember a woman who asked:
Who are these people and how are they online all hours of the day? Don't they have a life?
It's an interesting perspective!, isn't it? I suspect that for many people, this is their life. This is their connection to others, their hobbies, their interests, their friends and their support. In the past, a ‘loner' really had to live alone. But today, a ‘loner' doesn't have to! He/She can find other loners with the same hobbies!
Some might argue that this type of ‘social' network and its accompanying safety net aren't as healthy as a real relationship and human contact. They may be right… but I'm not sure that people are treating this as an alternative. For many people, this is their only means of communicating.
In High School a friend of mine, Mark, was an amazing artist. He was a big bear of a guy. He had a full beard in 10th grade and wrote comic books with stories of Vampires and Werewolves. I loved hanging out with Mark but I could always tell that he was uncomfortable around everyone – even me. I don't think he was depressed at all, but he was pretty quiet except for the occasional growl (I growled back).
I can honestly imagine Mark being a famous eclectic artist, now, or perhaps living in the wilderness by himself today. I can't help but wonder, though. Had Mark had a blog and an outlet to publish his incredible tales, I think he would have connected with thousands of others with the same interests. He would have had a social network – a network of friends and fans that encouraged and appreciated him.
I'm in no way inferring that we bloggers are escaping depression or loneliness through our writing. We do; however, harness much respect from our readers. I'm no different. If I see someone ganging up on another blogger who is a friend of mine, I'll jump in and defend him. If I hear of a blogger that's taken ill, I genuinely pray for him and his family. And when a blogger stops blogging, I really do miss hearing from them.
Working a 50 to 60 our week and being a single father, I don't have much of “a life” (as defined by the woman I mentioned) outside of my blog and career. Ironically, though, my life online is incredibly supportive, happy and promising. I'm a truly happy (non-medicated but overweight) guy. I don't believe that I'm trying to replace one with another. I think both are just as important and rewarding. In fact, I believe that my ‘online' life has pushed me into being a better communicator in my ‘real' life. It's therapeutic for me to write and it feels great when I get feedback on my writing (even if it's negative).
The truth is, if I didn't have the support network that I have with you folks… I probably could be unhappy and could slip into depression. I'd probably be playing video games by night and making my colleagues miserable during the day.
I'd much rather take my Web 2.0 Pills every day.