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New Meetup: June Socrates Cafe Meetup

From: Andy
Sent on: Saturday, May 22, 2010 6:00 PM
Announcing a new Meetup for Socrates Cafe!

What: June Socrates Cafe Meetup

When: Saturday, June 5, 2010, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Mama Jean's Market
1727 South Campbell Avenue
Springfield, MO 65807

Technology and Community: Friends or Foes?

Social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, have become increasingly important forms of telecommunication--oftentimes substituting for traditional physical interaction between people. While many welcome the capacity of social media to forge connections between like-minded people who would not have met otherwise--with Socrates Caf? possibly serving as a good example of this phenomenon--others argue that, on the whole, these sites harm our sense of community more than they help it.

The debate seems split into two predominant camps. Many hold a traditionalist view, skeptical that "virtual" relationships are capable of producing the same bonds as those formed through physical interaction.? According to the traditionalists, the social media serve only to impede the development of genuine social skills--fragmenting our society into cliques united only by individual interests, thereby weakening our community and our interpersonal skills in general.

The proponents of "virtual" interaction view it as an ever-expanding opportunity to meet those with similar interests and beliefs, offering a new door for intellectual and emotional connection. They argue that traditionalists sound the same alarm bells every time a new technology spreads--and that every time their alarmism is unwarranted. Witness the Luddites who ridiculously forecasted doom as telephone conversations
displaced letter correspondence.

This discussion will center on the impact of technology on our communal cohesiveness: Does technology, on the whole, augment or fragment community?? On reflection, many interesting subsidiary issues can be identified within this question.? For instance, what, if anything, makes physical interaction intrinsically more valuable than virtual interaction?? Does the creation of societies partitioned by similar interests or characteristics yield stronger individual bonds at the expense of a larger communal sense of belonging??Do social media technologies differ substantially from historically innovative technologies, like the printing press or telephone?

As I am recuperating from minor foot surgery, Mario will again serve as moderator for the group discussion. I have him to thank as well for provideing me with a draft of this topic description.

By the way, I appreciate the ideas for future topics that some of you have been posting on our Meetup Web site. Feel free to bring these ideas up at the ends of our meetings, when we decide on topics for subsequent meetings.

Finally, thanks to everyone who made it out for our last Meetup, at which we had a very lively, interesting, and humorous discussion of the philosophy of humor. (Thanks especially to our professional humorist, Yakov Smirnoff, for sharing his thoughts and experiences at length.)

Yours in Socrates,

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