There’s a recurring theme on some mainstream media that the Internet and social media are some kind of dark force, that only does bad things to your kids and those who spent too much time online don’t have anything useful to do with their lives.

As i’m never short of passion of explaining to regular “offline” folks the outstanding opportunities that the web has brought to us, let me share one of my central arguments that you can also use to bring more people in to the conversation.

The Third Place

The Third Place refers to social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home and the workplace, or as i call it the private and professional spheres. The concept was created by Ray Oldenburg , arguing that these places were central on their community building role on a society.

A monthly meeting of users in Lisbon, © twittlis

The web pushed this whole concept further, as citizens increasingly rely on digital tools to stay connected, with social media becoming their main third place. With shopping malls and other consumption temples getting emptier in a year of crisis, this trend will deepen and it’s up to us, early adopters, to show the Yellow Brick Road to newcomers.

Show your friends the best community tools available so we all can build a better society. From to, these are not only tools for digital democracy but effective agents of change.

So when those folks tell you to get a life, just reply: “Get a Third Place”.

One thought on “Get a Third Place

  1. sure. a favorite café. one’s hang-out bar. Our groups on facebook or friendfeed.

    The internet did not create any new needs… “online folks” are not different from their offline counterparts. They desire the same thing: to connect.

    one important observation though… inhabiting an “online third space” allows us to inhabit, at the same time, an offline “first, second or third space”. Example: people twittering while they are working.

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