Friday, January 15, 2010

Social Networking

So, what's on my mind today? Well, lemme tell ya. I have been pondering how global communication has changed in the last ten years or so, and the effects, both present and future, it has and will have on society. I'm sure I am not the first person to ponder this and definitely not the last, but here are my thoughts.

I wonder whether or not the introduction of myspace, facebook, twitter, blogger, etc. has changed the way society communicates, both on small and large levels. First of all, the reactions to these methods of communications range from disgust to delight. I know people on both ends of the spectrum and am always fascinated by the difference of opinion. A profound skepticism and mistrust of these social networking sites seems prevelant in a fair amount of the baby boomers I know, whereas my generation and younger can't get enough of them. Assuming they will be around for generations to come, I find it fascinating to contemplate their effect on society.

I have lived on both sides - with and without these sites available during my adult life. Often these days I wonder why I am drawn to check status updates to find out that Susan was awake at 3 in the morning, or Bobby got all the laundry done today. Maybe it's because I also find out that my sister's cute little boy said something hilarious or my brother put up a picture he took that afternoon of his darling little girl. Wait, you say, 10 years ago I could have found out that information or seen that picture on e-mail... Ah, yes, but then I would miss out on Susan's insomnia and Bobby's clean clothes! Fascinating, isn't it? I can know on any given day that my old friend from junior high has had a fabulous day. I can see a picture of my old friend who lives half-way around the world that I haven't been in touch with for 25 years. I love that part of it. What I am not crazy about is the insane drive to the computer to check status updates/new blog posts. This bothers me - hence, the pondering.

So, back to communication. Have these sites changed the way we communicate? I think so. We know so much more detail about our everyday lives. I am flabbergasted to watch how much information people choose to share and the way they share it. Some examples - I have facebook friends who are comfortable sharing just about anything on their minds, including strong political preferences, details of their personal struggles with any difficult issue they're facing, and requests for prayers. It is interesting to watch priorities emerge from status updates...I could name off to you 5 friends right now and what is important to them on a daily basis based on their frequent status updates. Speaking of status updates, I have facebook friends who never post status updates...I will just see their names every once in a while when they add a new friend. Then there are the once in a while status updaters/lurkers/commenters on everyone else's status updates. This is where I would group myself. Finally we have the every-few-hour updaters who fall into several different categories - i.e. those who just type what is on their mind at the moment, those who give you a daily calendar of their schedules, those who have a cause or several causes that are important to them, and those who are desperately seeking for attention/love. Finally we come to the "so-and-so went to the next level in this game", or "so-and-so raked the manure on someone else's farm", etc. ad nauseum. Thankfully, facebook has provided a way to hide those wonderful "thanks, but I really didn't need to know that updates"....i'd just rather know that you cooked a mean lasagna tonight!

Blogging has made long distance living away from family not quite the dramatic separation it used to be. I feel like I know my brother's and sister's kids because of the pictures, videos and stories their parents have shared through blogging. I group blogging and facebook together because when I check one I usually immediately check the other, along with my e-mail, but the actual time spent from least to most is usually e-mail, blogger, facebook. However, I also group facebook separate from blogging because when I blog I feel like I am journaling and accomplishing something good (well, usually). A lot of the time on facebook I feel like I am wasting time scrolling through status updates to find out that Bobby had an omelet for breakfast and Susan can't find her socks. I guess what I am trying to say is that I find both positives and negatives regarding communication on these sites.

Regardless of their postive and negative qualities, social networking sites cannot replace the most important type of communication: that of one human being literally being within a few feet of another human being with the ability to feel that persons soul because they are actually physically in the same room speaking to each other (not texting). To reach out and literally physically touch that person in a way that no video cam or minute-by-minute status update can. Do these sites make such an impact on society that eventually this most important type of communication will be replaced? Or do they have no impact whatsoever? I believe only time will tell and the impact in my view will be somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. It does make for good contemplating when you're out on a stroll or a drive.

As for me, I'm done with this blog post and am going to go snuggle with my schweetie. TMI? IDK, you decide. :)


Tiffany said...

I enjoyed reading this! I don't think I have thought about this subject in such depth, but you make some really good points. I guess my take on this whole issue is that personally speaking, I know that the reason I love this social networking bit is that I just have a genuine interest in people and human natures and people's lives. Before all of this ever exisited, my favorite TV show was "Biography" on A&E. I loved it and watched it religiously. I just found such a fascination with people, what they did, how they lived, their accomplishments, follies, etc. But, this social networking and blogging has made it so easy to learn more about people closer to home (and you're right, sometimes it's too much info). The perk about being connected to family is another reason why I love it so much, like you mentioned in your post. Because of blogging and facebook, I am really able to see what's happening in my family's lives that I would otherwise not know about. Not sure why everyone else has such a facsination but that's I why I like it so much! :)

PS Sorry this is so long-winded lol

Jen Gillespie said...

DA!!! The last part made me want so bad to be in the same room with you. NAAAAAAAAA. Good thoughts da. I definitely spend too much time facebooking/blogging but I feel that it, in some small way, connects with other adults in the outside world when I am stuck at home. LOVE YOU TONS!

Jennifer Kremer Oliva said...

You forgot the part where it now comes all together on one little device... Heck, I can update my twitter, blog, facebook, myspace all with one text! Pretty sweet! I think the last General conference had a good talk about this. But you know. The things social networking can be used for can be such blessings! I love the fact that I can see what my YW did this weekend on their myspace, even if they choose not to tell me. I love that our new CC 1st Ward page reminded me that I had the RS PJ night! Your right though, I too have seen people on both sides, I dont know. I love it! Actually I am quite upsessed with it :) but theres nothing better than having lunch with a good friend. So speaking of that - when we ganna go again!?!

Jen said...

I love them all for old dear friends aren't lost. I don't have to wonder, I can know.

Willy Happy Mama said...

I have pondered the same things! Without FB/Blogger. I wouldn't have reconnected with you...someone I admire and love from college. It brings me joy to know that you and Shawn are happy. I wonder if Class reunions will be a thing of the past since I feel like I have had all the reminicing I need or want with only the people I want to talk to through these mediums. With that said, I do feel connected to family, but NOTHING replaces a Hug, a smilie, a touch. Thanks for your post!

Alyssa said...

You know I frequently ponder on the subject too and after my most recent detox from the internet and all it's friends and foes I am again perplexed. A time saver and reconnector in someways and a time sucker in many others. There's a lot of good in it and yes, I like to know but, do I NEED to know? Journaling yes, I love that. I guess for me, I just need to know when to draw the line and exercise more self-discipline. The word "Virtually" goes through my mind often...I was virtually(as in almost but, not really) in contact with other people today and yet, it was so much fun!?!?!