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Are Social Networks Encapsulating Us More Than They Are Freeing Us?

Yeah, all we hear about these days is Web 2.0 rhetoric and ideas at how what used to be great social networking websites digress into a nice means for some enterprising individuals to create the next great Internet opportunity. I remember when if you wanted to make money through communication technology, you simply charged for the service or platform that people were communicating through. These days people feel that advertising perhaps could be part of the mix, which is sad because people like to know when they’re being marketed to and no one wants their day to day lives being trivialized as advertising ops to help out some companies. You also see Instagram DM that you get on a daily basis, these DMs are how you are targetted by marketing teams of different products based on our search history and patters. 

Yet in some ways it had come to that a long time ago; anytime you’re wearing something with a logo or trademarked emblem or talking about whom or what company made the products or services you are using, you are using word of mouth to spread that word. So tapping into that potential isn’t that farfetched. Yet individuals like to be in control of that action, on the other hand, those types of ideas somehow suggest that social networking isn’t serious, new, or innovative anymore. In fact, it’s become somewhat of a commodity; quite one thing when you’re paying for the right to email a potential date but quite another when you’re trying to maintain friendships and relationships. Then again let’s just be completely honest here for a second; it’s just easier to meet and network online than it is in real life for some of us. As much as I like to write I prefer the real-life equivalent but it is a lot of time and work networking and you can kill a lot of birds with one stone behind the computer.

Social networking goes far beyond mere websites tailor-made for the purpose, and if you’re relying on them too heavily you’re missing the real point of social networking, to begin with. You need a clear purpose in mind to get past the mere infatuation of social networking and the crippling effects that putting everything in the basket of the Internet can have on your real-life social networks.

Sure MySpace and Facebook are great where you’re a teenager or into your early twenties. But past that what is it really offering you; you’ve met about as many of your old elementary school friends as you are ever going to and went out on as many dates and had the drug-influenced high of the anonymous hookup to last you for life, but what is beyond that. Social networks can offer you instant gratification and some lightweight companionship but can it really take you to that next level?

The bottom line is that it has for a lot of people; individuals have met people they never would have otherwise through websites and developed some truly meaningful relationships. But the overwhelming majority of us are just out and about playing the same types of games that we do in real life, and there is no hard evidence to suggest that social networking has actually brought any real sophistication to making friends or associates; if nothing else it simply is yet another way of how technology has brought some evolution to regular everyday activities.

So when it is all over and done with can we honestly say that our social skills have improved, or are we in a position in which we’re somewhat codependent on social networking to get us by. With our hectic lives, social networking sites are about one of the few things we actually stop to pay attention to anymore. Some of us will neglect those around us to talk on a cell phone, check our email or visit our websites to see if anyone new has connected with us.

Over time social networking websites may even prove detrimental to those who already experienced significant difficulties dealing with people in real life. The Internet isn’t any friendlier; it simply gives you a different side to individuals you may never get otherwise. To be honest, without a direct and blunt approach towards socialization, you wouldn’t get to see that side of an individual. In real life there is fear and reservations, on the Internet it seems somewhat anonymous and we’re freer to be our true selves, or whoever we feel like being.

But it can be intoxicating, and we tend to focus on there more than we do with what is going on in front of our eyes. We tend to miss out on real-life opportunities more because we’re preoccupied with what happens in our virtual realm. Technology may get you the nerve to get in, but it can’t keep you there; eventually, your true insecurities, shortcomings, and everything else that isn’t so great about you come out, and when it does it’s often more embarrassing than it would have been in real life.

So social networking websites will continue to serve a purpose, as well as become a crux at times though a necessary component to getting us by. We’re just not connected these days, actively and emotionally disengaged, as some might imply. Too often it just takes us taking time out to make that effort to make that connection, and often it’s better and easier to get someone’s exclusive attention online than it is in real life…

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