Asocial Network

Asocial Network, that is: Before the smartphone I believed that the dog was the best friend of the human being

(Alberto Cecchi) More and more often I see people walking around the city with dogs. The dog, we know, has become part of our daily life and has earned the role of “best friend of the human being”. Always present, faithful, always happy to see us, always ready to obey.

Recently, however, I have the impression to see more and more people walking with the dog on a leash and, in the meantime, looking at their cell phones. I try to identify myself in the mood of the dog who, after having waited all day for his master, welcomes him in the house happily and finally goes out with him. Unfortunately, however, it seems that this dog has a big antagonist: the smartphone. From the dog’s point of view, the smartphone is an instrument of Asocial Network.

Asocial Network

The human being, while continuing to consider the dog as his best friend, seems to be far away immersed in another world: the social network.

We experience very similar scenes by observing groups in the restaurant or bar. Diners around a table, where each one is immersed in his own social network. To understand the phenomenon, we will define also this group of people: Asocial Network.

Let me be clear that I do not want to demonize a strongly democratic instrument that has allowed everyone to express their ideas and opinions. Today, finally, we all have an audience to turn to, to which we can explain our points of view and to which we can show the moments of our life. This audience is mainly made up of close friends, but also from casual friends and very distant relatives. This network of connections is known and extensively studied and is called: Social Network. The power of the Social Network is clear to everyone and this power is very popular and democratic.

Asocial Network in the pub

What instead seems to me less studied is the phenomenon for which people give priority to the social network (connecting to people all over the world) while they seem to lose progressively interest in what surrounds them, that becomes an Asocial Network.

The Asocial Network is poorly studied seems to have a lower priority, almost does not exist. Its origins, in massive form, I believe have come to life with a cell phone. Today if you observe people in a bar or a restaurant at least half of them regularly and constantly consult the mobile phone. Before the phone, a small percentage of people was reading the newspapers or a book. Normally was reading the books or the newspapers, people who then used these moments of solitude to “get information”. The book and the newspaper in public places, trains and subways were a support to alleviate loneliness. We kept away from those around us (the social network), reading.

In a few years a completely new phenomenon has exploded. We keep away from people (or dogs) in the vicinity, turning it into an Asocial Network, and devotes our time to a vast and powerful network spread throughout the world.


It is clear that this is not an absolute and constant phenomenon. People around a table (the diners) normally enter and quit the Asocial Network continuously. In fact, as Google explains, the lives of smartphones users are scanned in Micromoments.

We can therefore say at the end of the article that the Asocial Network is a widespread but not definitive phenomenon. I hope this reflection can be a starting point for further research and analysis.

To give a small example of some harmful aspects in the mobile use, I would like to point out that Social Networks have stopped giving priority to recent messages (erasing the simple chronological order) while instead they started playing with complex algorithms.
These algorithms have a generic objective to keep the user as long as possible inside the app he is using. One of the feature is to more visibility to popular posts.
Analyzing these aspects (there would be many others to list) is the doubt that even the social network is gradually slipping into the asocial dimension. This is the most troubling aspect of reflection: we abandon a real network, making it asocial, to live within an increasingly asocial immaterial network. To put it in the words of Goolge, we alternate micromoments of asocial digital networking with micromoments of asocial material networking.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Alberto Cecchi

Educational Consulting, international academic relations. Researcher in the new media, design and social media. Specialties: 15 years of experience as Lecturer at the Universities of Urbino and Perugia, Multimedia Design and Computer Science. Author of Books and Articles about Design, New Media, Internet Security Education (History of Cryptography).

You may also like...