Social media certainly connects us to whoever is on the other end of the line, and so extends our social networks in amazing ways. But this can come at the expense of deeper personal relationships. When it feels like we’re up-to-date on our friends’ lives through Facebook or Instagram, we may become less likely to call them, much less meet up. Networks connect; communities care.
Marshall McLuhan wrote famously about the “global village,” created by new information technologies. But what kind of a village is this? In the traditional village, you chatted with your neighbor at the local market, face-to-face: this was the heart of community. When that neighbor’s barn burned down, you may all have pitched in to help rebuild it. Is crowdfunding in this global village quite the same? Like those fantasy-ridden love affairs on the internet, the communication remains untouched, and untouchable.