If you’re a social animal you probably have many social networks. It may be friends you have breakfast with, a coffee group, organized “500 of your closest friends” events, email lists organized around a common interest, MySpace, Friendster, Friendlee (by HP but I don’t think it ever took off), Twitter or Facebook. In the online genre of social networking there is even Friendfeed and other services that pull all of your networks together. And now, there’s even the movie “The Social Network.”
Before we talk about the movie, let’s talk about this matter of socializing via the internet. Are we being social there? Or are we hiding? Some people check their social media occasionally and some “live” on and for it. Of course, today the main such network appears to be Facebook and it lends itself to either an occasional check or constant monitoring.
Do you know people who have become Facebook hermits? You know who you are! Is Facebook (I’ll limit my analysis to Facebook now) contributing to a de-socialization process — one where face to face human interaction decreases to an extent such that relationships are damaged or simply disappear from benign neglect?
But, what exactly do we mean by “de-socialization”? It’s more than the border-line anti-social practice of sitting alone on your computers g-chatting with people in the next room, or a group of friends all in the same room talking on their cell phones to different people. Because social media skills are becoming more and more necessary (ironically while, at the same time, social media policies in the work place are banning more and more websites like Facebook, Twitter, and most photo sharing sites), people are being led to develop computer skills, Internet search know-how, and popular social media site profiles.
As you ponder these things, also ponder the creation of the place where most of my friends can be seen: Facebook, as portrayed in “The Social Network” movie. I don’t want to spoil the movie for you but I’ll share a couple of thoughts after Jen and I went to see it today. For both nerds and geeks (and there is a difference) — and for anyone who knows someone fitting either description — you will recognize those types and find humor there. Facebook was originally a college-only system, originating at Harvard where Zuckerberg was a student. Then there is the matter of the additional students who claimed to have originated the basic idea and with whom Zuckerberg has settled. There is a lot of drama — and a not insignificant portrayal of college partying — surrounding the story.
After you see the movie, here is the money question: do you feel differently about using Facebook?