This is a question posted by Ian Mavorah in the LinkedIn Marketing Executives Group a week ago which has generated a lively discussion. There are plenty of people who think that social media are making us anti-social. I don't. Here's why.
It seems pretty clear to me that social media mostly complement face-to-face interaction. My teenage kids of course use it all the time, but as an adjunct to their normal social lives. Conversations at school can continue into the evening with lots of people at once. Arrangements can be made for the next day and so on.
An example from business: I talked this week with a consulting firm that has a proprietary gated community with several thousand customers and prospects. They have a full time team of 4 maintaining it, adding content etc. They are very clear that it's a complement to their meetings, seminars and other face-to-face interactions (which is why they can't measure the leads that it, per se, generates.)
I'd note that the older generations' (Prior to Gen-Y that is) protestations about how social media are killing social interaction are fundamentally no different than the protestations that respectively accompanied the telephone, the television, the cellphone, the internet, rock and roll, and though it was before my time, I don't doubt the advent of the railroads too. I confidently predict that within five years all the baby boomers and enough of the traditionalists will be using it, that debates like this will seem quaint.
P.S. Of course the question should have been "ARE social media making us anti-social?", but I suspect that battle may go the way of criterion - at least this side of the pond.