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What are your thoughts on the cultural impact of social networking sites? Options
kaliedel
Posted: Monday, April 13, 2009 3:16:57 PM
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There is a discussion going on at the Computing board regarding the technical pro's and con's of social networking sites, but I was interested in what people see as some of their cultural impacts. You either love 'em or you hate 'em: Facebook, MySpace, and now Twitter.

Beyond the apparent age gap between users and non-users, I find one of the most ironic negatives regarding social networking sites to be the onset of alienation (or perhaps isolation.) It seems a quick message to former friends has replaced actually talking to them or going to see them. In some ways, I find that the sites have allowed us to engage in "easy friendship," where relationships are Internet-ized (is that a word?) and made more convenient. It seems like just one big step towards being left alone.
Rocco
Posted: Monday, April 13, 2009 4:39:29 PM
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I agree with you, kaliedel. Paradoxically, social networking sites may lead us to isolation or alienation (which is even worse). They give us the illusion to keep easily in touch with our friends, but in reality we just spend more time alone.
fred
Posted: Monday, April 13, 2009 5:19:41 PM
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I like the written word, but I also like to see or hear how a person responds to what I say. Sometimes I will use the opposite meaning- can't do that here without killing the mechanism.
kayrod57
Posted: Monday, April 13, 2009 6:30:41 PM
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I think it's just a sign of the times. But it does take away from the human factor of meeting and greeting but it also provides and escape way for the insecure, meaning that the shy girl/boy whom everyone thinks has no friend, can have hundreds of "friends" online.... although a slim amount of those "friends" are actually ones she/he really knows to the point they can be called friends, it does give them a chance to escape the cruel reality that the real world can provide. In my opinion though, I dont really consider these sites as "social" networking more than a free online dating.
kaliedel
Posted: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 4:30:14 PM
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To be honest, I'm on Facebook, but all of my friends (as far as I know) are people that I know in real life - it hasn't led to some influx of "Internet-only" acquaintances. Maybe the social networking sites are much like a piano - you get out of them what you put in. If you really gave it a go, you could probably accumulate hundreds of friends in a few days.
Rhondish
Posted: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 5:13:14 PM
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Personally, I do not feel the need to be so "in touch". I worked for a telecommunications company for about five years and I keep in touch with a few of my prior co-workers, via e-mail and phone calls. A week does not go by that someone from this circle of friends (they are all techies), will nag me to create a Facebook page because 'so and so' just did. My response, "If 'so and so' wants to connect, my cell phone is still the same and I'm in the book. (the phonebook that is)" I know it sounds as though I may be tainted by technology, but that is not the case. I also feel that sometimes there is just too much information about someone on those pages. One of the above mentioned group posted before and after pictures of her dog of 15 years being put down. Can you believe this! What a sad attempt to get sympathy. All I could think of after that is My God, she must be the lonliest person I know. I think I'll pass.
Luftmarque
Posted: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 5:19:15 PM

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For the telephone-phobic among us (here I raise both my hands), any text-based communication channel is preferable to the phone--with Facebook, email, and chatting I'm managing to avoid almost all the situations where I would have had to use the phone in the past. Notable exception being my father who will never make the transition to text.
kaliedel
Posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 3:29:24 PM
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Luftmarque wrote:
For the telephone-phobic among us (here I raise both my hands), any text-based communication channel is preferable to the phone--with Facebook, email, and chatting I'm managing to avoid almost all the situations where I would have had to use the phone in the past. Notable exception being my father who will never make the transition to text.


Hence my belief in Facebook (and other sites) as a double-edged sword. It allows easy communication, but just as easily precludes forcing one to communicate more directly.
Raparee
Posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 4:30:38 PM

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I'm with Luftmarque on this one. Having worked phone systems for far too long, you simply reach a point where you'd be just as happy never answering one again on your "off" time. I have a cell phone for emergencies and that's pretty much it. I prefer text-based communication and have made many online friends around the world who are REAL friends. I know that I can stop in at their door any time of the day and always have a place to stay and they can do the same. And we have done that. Admittedly, before any of that occurs, we do generally transition to phone communication or at least, voice chatting online (I really do need to get a new headset for that - skype is so much cheaper than international calling plans). Many of these friends came from message boards and online journals. We connected there and the friendships grew beyond. So while I loathe MySpace and am wary of Facebook, they *can* be jumping points into real, off-line friendships depending on the individuals, but more than often, are merely hunting grounds for so much badness. Then again, I prefer LiveJournal, so I could, potentially, be biased. ;) I consider MySpace for kids, Facebook for those looking for old school mates, and Twitter? I really haven't formed an opinion just yet on Twitter.

So while yes, these sites allow us to connect with a wide variety of people, often en masse, we still choose how far to let people into our lives. For me, online communication showed me that there were people out there who liked what I liked. Coming from a small town where the goal of most every female was to be barefoot and pregnant before the age of 18 (we went from over 200 students in 6th grade to 43 graduating, most of whom dropped out, got married, got pregnant...and not necessarily in that order), I was happy to find some people who wanted to get out and live a little, to travel, to discuss things beyond small town gossip. I found real friends online, friends that transcended online. So for that opportunity alone, I will appreciate what social networking is capable of doing. I won't say it can't hurt the loners, whether they be loners by choice or not, but some contact with others is better than none.
Betsy D.
Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2009 9:36:33 AM
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Luftmarque wrote:
For the telephone-phobic among us (here I raise both my hands), any text-based communication channel is preferable to the phone--with Facebook, email, and chatting I'm managing to avoid almost all the situations where I would have had to use the phone in the past. Notable exception being my father who will never make the transition to text.


OH yeah. I HATE the phone!!
risadr
Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2009 11:13:48 AM
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kaliedel wrote:
There is a discussion going on at the Computing board regarding the technical pro's and con's of social networking sites, but I was interested in what people see as some of their cultural impacts. You either love 'em or you hate 'em: Facebook, MySpace, and now Twitter.

Beyond the apparent age gap between users and non-users, I find one of the most ironic negatives regarding social networking sites to be the onset of alienation (or perhaps isolation.) It seems a quick message to former friends has replaced actually talking to them or going to see them. In some ways, I find that the sites have allowed us to engage in "easy friendship," where relationships are Internet-ized (is that a word?) and made more convenient. It seems like just one big step towards being left alone.


I have to disagree with a couple of points made here.

1. In regards to the age gap: it all depends on the Internet "literacy" of the user. For example, my mother- and father-in-law are not very Internet savvy. In fact, they barely know how to manage their email inbox. On the other hand, my own father, who is only a few years younger than my in-laws, has a profile on Facebook and has used it to reconnect with several people whom he lost contact with a long time ago.

2. "It seems a quick message to former friends has replaced actually talking to them or going to see them." While I cannot argue that there is some degree of truth to this statement, I have to disagree with it, as well. For me, since I work on the computer, from home, it is infinitely easier for me to send a quick, one-line message to a friend, just to see how s/he is doing, than to pick up the phone and call or to go and see them face-to-face. However, for me this is as much because of the disparate schedules that my friends keep (many of them work nights and, if I were to call them during the day, would get quite upset with me for having interrupted their sleep), and because of the fact that most of my friends live in Florida, while I live in Pennsylvania. The few friends I have who don't live in Florida live in various other locations around the country, the closest ones to where I live being those who live in Upstate New York. So, while I would love nothing more than to talk to my friends or see them daily, it's difficult for me, and I have yet to meet anyone whom I consider a friend since moving to PA four months ago.

I understand how someone could feel that the Internet-based social-networking sites are "just one big step towards being left alone," but I feel the exact opposite. I tend to believe that Facebook (the only social-networking site I use) allows me to be more connected with my family and friends than I otherwise would be, if I were depending solely on the phone or face-to-face visits for communication and interaction.
kaliedel
Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2009 3:41:06 PM
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Well I won't argue that it allows people to easily stay in touch with family and friends. My suggestion is that because it's so easy to send a message, it may in fact waylay the urge to see/visit them in person. I think there's an illusion of contact - while e-mails are nice, they simply don't hold up to one-on-one interaction.
Luftmarque
Posted: Wednesday, April 22, 2009 12:31:37 PM

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The creators of Twitter are funny! Interview with Twitterers Makes me want to give it another try. I didn't quite get what it was for the first time around. Perhaps the 140-character limit is a good thing, apparently some people just Twitter haikus, that could be fun.
kaliedel
Posted: Wednesday, April 22, 2009 9:36:52 PM
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Luftmarque wrote:
The creators of Twitter are funny! Interview with Twitterers Makes me want to give it another try. I didn't quite get what it was for the first time around. Perhaps the 140-character limit is a good thing, apparently some people just Twitter haikus, that could be fun.


It seems like the best aspect of Twitter is the celebrity one - the public is already obsessed with famous people, and this might just bankrupt tabloids.
Nabi
Posted: Sunday, January 9, 2011 11:57:44 AM
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I think it's more depend on the users. these sites are just social environments that make communication easy. some may use them to flee from loneliness, or to find new friends, to avoid talking directly,...
To me, these sites help stay in touch with friends, sometimes I prefer leaving a message for my friends on facebook rather than giving them a call, just because I don't want to disturb them.
But care must be taken that communication through these sites should not replace sporadic phoning, meeting and direct communications with friends.
Gunjika
Posted: Monday, January 10, 2011 10:55:36 AM
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I think social networking sites have become a means to show-off. Sometimes people look foolish as they attempt to let everyone know about their latest gadget/holiday/dogs/cats/children.... hello! there seems to be no limit. Some things on display are so intimate that even looking at them is irritating. It is treated like a virtual bedroom where any stranger can take a peek.

Some people just do not know where to draw the line... one of my friends used to post about how lonely and bored she has been over past couple of months. After a few posts, people on her list stopped reacting!! Virtual insult added to virtual injury!
larry marvin
Posted: Monday, January 10, 2011 5:41:59 PM
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Taking the "Social" out of networking.
Babezy
Posted: Monday, January 10, 2011 6:34:15 PM
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And here I thought I was the only one who preferred text to a phone call!
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