What does web-based social networking means for you?
Every one of us live in a social network composed by family, friends, neighbors, classmates, coworkers, people you meet every day in the street, store attendants, business partners, people in the media that we either admire or loath, and, if we are celebrities ourselves, the people that admire, support, or follow us. We might have joined a club, or a school play, meeting people who share an interest and who otherwise we might not have met. People that come in and out in our lives but that leave a strong impression, people we met by chance or by mistake but with who we connect. People we probably never met physically, but to who we pen-pal, meet at bbs, Usenet, or web forums, or just chat. So that is a social network, the sum of all people we connect, and the way we connect with them. Not every people in our social network means the same for us, and not to everyone we approach equally. I might trust my banker my money, but not my drinking friends. But I would trust my drinking friends details of my family I will not tell my banker. On a more practical approach, our social network is the set of people we rely on for different aspects of our lives: being fed, pursuing goals together, having fun, having our backs scratched, etc. On the other hand, social networking services are not social networks. They are just enablers of social networking. Sometimes I see my over 700 friends in Facebook. Quite a big number, but most of them do mean something to me. There are a few people I had never met in person, but who I price for having met them in virtual communities, including people I met in Facebook itself. There are people from high school I barely met back then but who represent an important part of my existence, and who I would anyhow trust with a few secrets. But there is also some people who is very important in my social network who just refuse to join Facebook, from privacy and philosophical concerns to simple tech-fobia (or just tech-apathy). But Facebook is not my only social networking service. I twitter (not much, I am just beginning, and actually I had no followers to tweeter to). I have some activity in Linked In, less so in Hi5, Tagged, or MySpace. I barely use Windows Live Messenger (MSN Messenger) to chat with family for family business (and to get the occasional virus link from an infected friend). An, of course, I blog. So, I ask myself what web-based social networking means for me.
- It meant my previous job, but probably also contributed to losing it.
- It meant a few congratulations in my recent birthday, some friends that confirmed to come to my birthday meeting, and none of them actually coming (well, to be fair, my sister did came).
- It means a probable opportunity to meet with my high school friends, or at least the one forth that did confirm but had not agreed on the actual time to meet. (see postdatum bellow)
- It means a blog that is barely read and very seldom commented about.
- But, for me, it actually means hope. Hope that one day I can actually make a difference through the people I had met, either personally or through the web. Hope that society can be changed for better through people coming together for a greater aim. Hope that social networking services prove to be a real enabler of social transactions, an enabler of society, and not just a bare communication channel for our eclectic but limited social networks of our own.
Of course, hope is not enough, and hope without action is just an empty painkiller to which you can get addicted. So probably I should just take a radical approach and cut myself from social networking services: freezing this blog, shutting down my Facebook profile, removing silent contacts from my Windows Live Messenger, and twitter no more. I would rather monetize my hope, but I had a little problem with money: I do not want money (I just need it, this society still is a monetary society and some non-monetary utopias are just utopias, and I do want things money can get, but money itself I just don’t care much about). So, basically this is an early farewell for my followers, ‘cuz at the time I actually decide to cut myself from social networking services, no warning will precede. For the time being, I am just interesting in knowing: what does web-based social networking means to you?
Postdatum: ~90 people graduated with me from Highschool. 26 confirmed through FB. 4 actually appeared. — 15 December, 2008