Saturday, 12 September 2009

Social Networking - a good thing?

There has been said a lot lately about social networking - this new phenomena - and most of it has nothing good to say.

It is addictive - yes but like all addictions it can be controlled if the addicted individual wants to control it.

The recent case of a man killing his wife when she changed her status to single on facebook tells a very small part of their story as their relationship was already breaking down for many other reasons.

No, social networking enables people to communicate their ideas and emotions around the world to friends that they have never met and hardly know. Hang on a minute, that sounds just like the old pen pals of years ago? Yes, that's exactly what it is but much faster and to a wider audience. No one decried pen pals, although there was a degree of addiction to it. Having posted a letter one awaited eagerly the reply and pounced on it when it finally landed on the mat. Grabbing the pen while the envelope was still warm a reply on 10 sides of paper was scripted to be posted at the first opportunity.

So why all the fuss surrounding social networking? It is because it is so much faster and the habit can be fed 24/7.

But is it all bad? Consider those who have social connection issues. People like to call them Aspergic - I hate labels of that type as it makes it sound like they should be rounded up in some way! But what about them? In social networking they can connect to others without many of the barriers they feel about personal contact. Fetching kids from school can be a problem for them in case other people waiting want to talk - they can find it very uncomfortable and stressful, yet in social networking they can connect to others and chat openly and not feel any of that so could this be a good thing for them? Perhaps so but will increase the number of 'aspergics'?

Many sci-fi books used to project societies where people didn't leave the comfort and safety of their own rooms and maybe, just maybe, social networking is a step along that route.

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