Saturday, October 10, 2009

Expanding Spaces and Faces

Finding ways of communicating with each other was and still is a natural activity we humans have, but as with everything else that changes in time, the methods of communicating have become sign of the times. Back in 2003, two young visionaries, Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe created My Space, which became an overnight success, mainly with individuals under the age of 20. MySpace allowed it’s users to show off their personality by allowing postings of pictures, music, writings and even clips of either favorite videos or videos made by the users himself. It was if we had a glimpse of a teenager’s bedroom where the walls are plastered with the same media found on their site. In the first year MySpace had over 27 million users with a 400 percent growth the first year. A new era in Social Networking was born and so was how we began to look at that once simplistic idea of communicating.
Since MySpace surfaced, others have followed, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, to mention a few and the countless Blogs that also reach millions in the digital community of conveying information and ideas that in ways that seemed almost impossible 10 years ago. Although the internet has been around for some time, the way of having almost instant social networking is relatively new. As sometimes in personal relationships, people sometimes fall in and out of grace and so it is with sites that gain more popularity than others. Since Facebook arrived in 2006, and it slowly surpassed MySpace and now claims to be the biggest social network in the world. The comparison by marketers states that MySpace is where people go to express themselves, while Facebook is where people are going for two-dimensional conversations. If this is true, could this mean that we still yearn for conversation, dialog with others, good old communication? Perhaps we have the need to feel we are connecting to others and not feel the need to display ourselves like a billboards trying to sell ourselves. If this is true, the evolution of social networking can benefit us all. Feeling more connected to others satisfies our need to not feel isolated and alone. Facebook’s members not only include the MySpace members that once held the majority in social networking, but now includes the over 30 age group are using Facebook as a way of not only communicating with “friends” but finding it a useful tool in connecting with family members, sharing photos, videos, and just checking in with currents events in each others lives. Some say it is almost addicting, making jokes that wasting ones time on such sites could be problematic. But the reality is that this may reflect a need that somehow is being met in the digital world. The need to feel connected to another person, the need to not feel alone and isolated. We hear of senior citizens who create their own communities on sites like Facebook and share their lives with others, both past and present and feel less alone and more connected. I tend to use that old clique “if it makes you feel good, do it”. Just as nature always finds a way in creating a balance for itself, so shall we. When it comes to finding ways to feel more connected to others, we will use what tools we have and utilize them the best way we can. Yes there are risks, losing the ability to have real face to face interactions with others, sitting in front of computers all day and not interacting with the outside world, but let’s not lose sight of our own credibility and the basic needs we all have. This is a tool and like my father use to say, “if you use a tool correctly, you can always get the job done correctly”.
Yes, I’m one of those members of Facebook who use to say I would not want to invest my time in such an activity, but I must admit, the social networking not only with family members, but people who I have not met face to face, has allowed me to share my ideas, thoughts and even feelings about various topics with others that have similar interests in my social network. OK I said it, “my social network”. What’s next, perhaps “my global network?”

1 comment:

  1. Your ideas on social networking providing connection in a world where people often feel isolated makes a lot of sense. I like your analogy with nature--human beings finding a way to get their social needs met.