Digital anthropology, simply defined, is the study of how internet-mediated communication via computer or mobile is impacting our culture and behaviour. This chapter looks at how social media and digital technology is changing us – for better or worse.
Over the past few years, as use of social media channels and the technology with which people access them have evolved, many practitioners have discussed the changes we have seen among ourselves, our workplaces, and our friends and families. As someone who works in social PR, I am not an anthropologist. An anthropologist undertakes significant, documented ethnographic research before commenting on cultural change.
Fortunately, many of these research reports are published and while the results are subjective they are useful. However, I would be doing the entire field of anthropology a disservice if I did not state my research methodology upfront with a hefty caveat. My commentary is based on extensive reading in this subject as well as observational, and in some instances practical, research to qualify my statements.
There are many areas where we have seen cultural shifts and will continue to see them, as our homes become smarter, technology fills the classroom, and our information and communication channels evolve. A whole book could be dedicated to discussing these changes; I will focus on the impact these changes are having on etiquette and relationships.