Sunday, August 02, 2009

Social Networking Or Socially Absent?

A couple of months ago I launched a new project to drive more readers to this blog. I re-designed the site, added some rich media content, and ventured into the world of social networking.

It wasn’t all that long ago, where the term “networking” either meant a series of computers linked together, or in a more social context, “networking” was getting out to business-related functions to hob-knob with colleagues in your field or work sector.

Back then, networking was limited to professionals, usually involved wearing suits and ties to bland corporate functions, and having to endure h

Water cooler sceneImage by dpwolf via Flickr

ours of meaningless small talk just to get a business card so you could call them later from the office and really talk shop.

These days, everyone is on the social networking bandwagon - from kidsbarely out of diapers, to seniors looking for their next bingo hall run, and everyone in between.

Social networking is the act of surfing the web for sites which connect you to other people with similar interests, hobbies, employment, or histories. These websites are online communities, where you can share your thoughts, pictures, videos and just about anything else you want too - with complete strangers. The most common social networking sites are Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Prior to trying to tap into the social networks for expansion of this blog, I already used Facebook - it is kind of cool to reconnect with people from your pa

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

st, and to keep in touch with others far away. Though I try to keep my Facebook time limited to no more than an hour a day, as it can prove quite addictive - with the ability to chat, play games, or even just poking someone, it can be quite a time sink.

Little did I realize just how much of a time sink social networking could be. I created a Facebook Fan site, joined Twitter, and started using Digg and StumbledUpon to drive readers to this blog.

Previously, to all my new social networking, when I posted a blog, it would take no more than 30-minutes. I could write the thing in about 20-minutes, proof it in about five, and then post it and do one final proof-read in another five-minutes or less.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase

Now that I’m using various social networking sites, posting a blog takes over an hour! I still only need about 25-minutes in total to write and proof-read my work, but then it takes forever to market the thing online.

Not that I mind - social networking is very social, which makes it fun. But it is too easy to get caught up in all the social activity. From chatting with strangers about whatever the current topics are, to just finding someone interesting to follow, to trying to make sure you have a good ratio of friends and followers, to filtering out “bots” which just want to sell you crap you don’t need . . .


Where indeed?

There are some that seem to live on these social networking sites, they never sleep, eat, and quite possibly have a tube attached to their naughty-bits, so they don’t have to get up to go to the bathroom.

Some people appear to always be on - and I know they aren’t “bots” automatically sending out messages, because I’ve talked with some in real-time, and the conversation was just too real to be a computer algorithm calculating what to send next.

Some of these even have people have multiple accounts on multiple social networking sites, but have many of the same online friends and conversations.

We’ve all heard about the balding middle-aged science fiction computer geek, living in his parent’s basement, spending all of his time online and eating.

Whether that image was ever true, it appears anyone can quickly become a prisoner to the world of online social networking. I’ve encountered men and women that are obviously addicted to the online world - some with high end jobs, and some beautiful women that are probably forever single not because they can’t get a date, but because they never leave their home.

Technology can and does amazing things for humanity. It has closed geographic distances, building a truly global village, as instant communications are now possible with anyone, anywhere in the world at anytime.

But that has also created a technological boogie man of sorts, which allows us to evade and avoid the real world around us, living in the perfect fantasies we create in our online social networks.

Online, it doesn’t matter if you are fit or fat, wealthy or starving poor, have a successful career, or are struggling to find a job. All that you need is a computer, an Internet connection, and a bit of imagination and know-how, and you too can escape reality, and make your own world anyway you want it.

I don’t know about you - but although I enjoy being social online

Image representing Digg as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase

, I prefer the real world of life, to that of the artificial world of the web.

Oh I’ll still partake in the online world - it is too pervasive in our culture to avoid, and it has grown readership of this blog, which was the ultimate goal.

However, I don’t want to be that dateless guy, surfing the net and ignoring my real friends in the real world because I’ve become enthralled with some complete stranger that I’ll probably never really meet or really ever know online.

And you never really know - that hot babe halfway ‘round the world that flirts with you online, could very well be your overweight, unemployed next-door neighbor - because anyone can pose as anyone online. Or worse, it could be your boss trying to figure out how far you’ll go online, to see if you’re a normal person with a healthy lifestyle worthy of that promotion, or some sick nut that should actually be let go.

Time to get a life - or at least get back to the life of the living.

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