About the young and their so-called connectiveness

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While attending the last  Enterprise 2.0 Forum in Milan, I had the pleasure to see Mark Masterson again and have an interesting talk during a cofee break

He was telling me he heard something very challenging at a panel. Here’s what it was about :

“Are we sure that Yers are connected and networkers to this extent (and it also applies to the following generations) become they grew up in a digital world when internet was a common thing that determined thir behaviors ? Or is it a pernicious effect of a society that is risk averse ? When we were 8, 10, 15, we were able to meet our friends outside, go out for an afternoon or after the school without hearing anything from our parents except “be careful and don’t be late for diner”. Today, with all these kidnapping or paedophilia things, the young are confined at home par parents that are more anxious than ours were and see in Facebook, MSN etc.. the only means to escape from this lock up. They are not connected or networkers by nature but because it’s the only answer they find to face their lack of freedom of move and a world that is overcontrolled by their parents. So it’s the consequence of the reaction to an unfortunate external constraint due to safety reasons”.

Mark told me “I don’t know if this guy is right or wrong but it must make us wonder about some of our assumptions. When I look around me and compare with when I was young, it seems that he’s right”.

And the conversation went on…

– we are both interested in these media and use them a lot so it’s an evidence it’s possible to come to it in a “natural” way, regardless of any generation factor.

– if we have had internet, Facebook, MSN… when we were young and, at the same time, the opportunity to join our friends outside, what would have our choice been ? Obviously, we were quite sure than we would have prefered one hour “outside” with friends rather than one our in front of our computer.

So, even if now that we are 30 and something we use social networks a lot, even if we were interested a lot in computers when we were young, its not sure that we would have used the net as a socializing space if we had the opportunity to do so.

So let’s try to push the reasonning a little bit further. Many “over connected” people seldom have the same behaviros at work, that personal usages seldom bring professional ones and that people even don’t want it to happen.

One explaination could be that as social networking is seen as a way out to lack of freedom embodies by parental authority, it may be logical that it can’t happen under another kind of authority, the corporate one. In short, social networking would be a discharging practice that has to take place out of any kind of regulation or authority, should it be parental or coporate.

At the end it’s another side of the cultural side of social networking. Corporate culture, of course, but local culture too. Generally speaking, it makes us question the relationship between people and the enterprise in a given local and social context. Is the workplace a place for self development or a place for constraints and slavery ? Depending on the answer, could we deduct people appetition for enterprise social networking ?

Phew…. And you ? What do you think about it ?