Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Social Networking Sites My Ass

Myspace, Facebook and their like have become so hip and trendy, they even have their own category in the vast array of useless titles: social networking sites.

Social networking sites are, according to Wikipedia:

A social network service uses software to build online social networks for communities of people who share interests and activities or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others.

Most services are primarily web based and provide a collection of various ways for users to interact, such as chat, messaging, email, video, voice chat, file sharing, blogging, discussion groups, and so on.
Wikipedia even has a list of the “notable” social networking sites, which defines what these sites are for, what countries they are most popular with, and roughly how many users they have.

Social networking sites are a great idea, but unless they involve actual face-to-face networking in real-time, what good are they?

Isn’t the whole point of these sites to be social? Staring off into a computer monitor, while typing messages back and forth hardly seems all that social. It certainly isn’t as productive as sitting across from someone in a cozy coffee shop, sipping hot chocolates and sharing real thoughts, feelings, and real life experiences in real-time.

Some of these so-called “social” networking sites even allow you to post the minute-by-minute play-by-play of your life online, so that you can pretend everyone in the world is actually there with you.

Twitter allows you to – well – twitter your online “friends.” Twitter is simply a website, where you can post what it is you are doing at that point in time – so that everyone interested in everything you do can see it.

You can post cool things on Twitter.

“Woke up, brushing teeth, and then going to eat breakfast.”

Like I really care?

“Going to work now, back later.”

Okay, good for you.

Social networking sites are a great escape for people that don’t like people. They allow those uncomfortable around other human beings, to “live” a life surrounded by other human beings.

Problem with this, what kind of life is it, when the closest thing to a friend you have, is someone called “SkinnySexxyGrl78?”

People actually think they have a lot of real friends, and seem mighty proud of themselves with the massive number of friends they think they have from these social networking sites.

I was checking out Twitter, to see what it was all about, and found several people on there bragging about how many “Followers” they have. A “Follower” is someone who has happened on your profile, and decided to follow your short updates about what you are doing right now. Anyone can follow anyone else, you don’t have to have anything in common to do so, and you don’t need permission or approval from the person you want to follow.

I think social networking in the real world is important, as it is always a good idea to be social. To interact with friends, family and colleagues is just part of being alive. It gives you a place to share and to vent, and this encourages personal and professional growth.

But most people these days only engage in social networking online, and that’s not healthy. For one thing, you never really know the people you are telling your deepest desires too, and for another, well, it isn’t very social at all.

If anything, participating solely on Internet-based social networking sites is anti-social, as it prevents you from really interacting with other people. For all you know, SkinnySexxyGrl78 is just an eight-year-old child posing as someone much older and wiser, and you’ve just asked her how to handle a major life decision about your work, your family or your real friends in real-time.

That’s another thing about these social networking sites – posing. People have and do take on different personalities online. Some even see it as a game, as a challenge to the status quo. They feel they aren’t accepted or taken seriously for who they really are, so online, they become who or what they’ve always wanted to be. There’s no real way to prevent this, or to tell if the people you are telling your most intimate life moments to are who they really claim to be.

Most of these social networking sites have large legal disclaimers advising that you must be a certain age to join -- but all you need is to have an email address to join. And so young kids pretending to be a lot older join, just as those who are mentally unbalanced join too. And you’ll never know if the person you are “talking” to is just a kid, or worse – an axe murderer.

Share your life with strangers at your own risk.


  1. Heya Jordan..I got one of these thingamajiggers (that's how I spell it).

  2. And yes, I do realize the irony of that comment being left on this post, but trust me, I have real friends. And I dislike facebook, myspace, and the other ones just as much as you do.

    Oh, and this is Elizabeth, up way too late. Take care.