In this interesting report of recent research from Mark Vernon’s blog, the limitations of social interaction through digital services alone is made clear – basically it is not enough to keep you sane and healthy.
This is valuable to remember as we pursue all sorts of technological ways of staying in touch with one another, both between people and also between brands and consumers. If I am a fan of Starbucks on Facebook, but my favourite shop smells of bleach, this negative physical relationship I have with them will overrule instantly my digital enthusiasm. The digital world may be important and useful but the physical world is in my face, and I need to see touch taste and feel to live a full life.
However it is also important not to see this as black vs. white, digital vs physical. For most people, the world they inhabit is just that, the world. In their day to day experiences physical and digital co exists as one experience. The natural tendency to ruthlessly select behaviours and tools which are most advantageous to survival means that any behaviour or tool, both digital and physical, can live side by side. Instant messenger lets me have a private conversation in a group meeting, Facebook status lets me tell people how I am really feeling before I go to the pub.
In these examples life is enriched by technology, not diminished.