Anti-social networks?

Mask on, sanitiser in pocket and guard up, I viewed this once familiar world with suspicion and excitement. This was my explorer’s mindset, as I got ready to find out what had changed. Fortified with antibodies but unprepared for the anti-social environment, my journey of rediscovery began.

Gone was the serendipitous stop over at a store that beckoned. Gone was the simple chit chat with a passer-by. Gone was the leisurely coffee or tea break between meetings. As I went about my work, I realised my outings were absolutely task focussed.

On making my re-entry into the real world I sense an anti-social network emerging. Lifts are a torture. I hold my breath as more and more people pile in. The waiting game to see if someone else will press the lift button. The relief when people exit and I have “my space” again.

The anti-social world put up its barriers when I was tempted to strike up a conversation with someone standing 6 feet away.  The distance yawned between us. Our eyes connected for a minute, I could have offered a comforting word as we both waited in silence outside the CT Scan room, lost in our own thoughts.  Will I be intruding? Is it worth the risk? The moment passes. The anti-social network at work again. The lost art of the unplanned conversation which can lead to so many serendipitous discoveries seemed to stare at me wherever I went.

Anger. My anger reared its ugly head as well. Someone had parked their car in a no parking area blocking my exit. I got into a yelling match with the driver of the vehicle when he arrived un-remorseful and arrogant. As if it was his right to park where he pleased and I was being unreasonable for complaining. I have worked hard to hold my anger in check. To be mindful and find a better way to engage with such situations. I found myself unable to draw on that reserve. The anti-social me was on full display. Another reminder to me, that the real world seems to have become an anti-social network of people. Me included. This was not a me I liked or recognised.

In contrast while the masks are on (or is that just my wishful thinking) in the real world and barriers are up, I sense a difference online. As much as there is zoom fatigue, there is also willingness to connect and to engage. To help and to share. In the year gone by I have made new connections, explored new spaces and found a few new friends online.

I would never have imagined that a small group of Coaches could find a way to link up courtesy LinkedIn and a year later proudly say that we created a volunteer-based organisation (, offering pro-bono coaching conversations that support our world. The camaraderie and sense of community that I felt within this group was truly amazing.

Maybe the absence of unplanned social engagement in the real world is opening people up to being more available online. Every time I have reached out for help or a conversation, I have found answers and new connections.

Ironically, much has been said about the anti-social behaviour of people online. I see another parallel social universe where people care and share online. I do hope the real world will offer me that experience soon, but till then I will take what I can get, where I can get it. My heartfelt gratitude to all the lovely people who I have had the pleasure of connecting with, you know who you are. I say three cheers to the power of online social networks.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Executive Director, Adfactors PR.

A trusted coaching and communications professional, Nikhil Dey is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF). Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.

Previously he has held senior leadership positions at Weber Shandwick and Genesis BCW.

He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

1 Comment on "Anti-social networks?"

  1. Raja Ghoshal | March 9, 2021 at 5:41 PM | Reply

    Very reflective, real and relatable!

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