Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Yet Another Social Network to Navigate

When are we going to stop and ask "Why is this good for me?"

Spending hours on social networking is easier then other forms of human interaction and it's possible to find flares of satisfaction as long as I maintain a steady rate of hit's on Facebook and Twitter. Is this a better way to live?

Yet we don't ask this question, much less have an answer, and we will all flock to be a part of the latest social network: Google Buzz.

Cool, huh?

Surprisingly, especially to myself, this news was recieved as a burden and not with excitement. I worry how various social networks spread us increasingly thin and the end result is not better relationships and deeper community - instead we get a reduction and simplification of sterile communication.

It has become increasingly taxing to keep tabs on everything. I ejected Myspace years ago to focus on Facebook, and have done everything I can to integrate it with Blogger and Twitter.

That being said, I am a die-hard gmail fan and it will be nice to have integration. Even here I have reservations. Compared to email, I have found that people are even less likely to respond to a deep thought on Facebook (because FB is not perceived as a place for deep interaction). Buzz could cause more and more people to perceive their gmail account as a quick fix for social interaction as well.

I find myself being more and more skeptical of where we are going with the internet. Such potential for effective communication and collaboration, but I spend so much on mindless banter.

The reality is I am more likely to get feedback and discussion on Facebook about a Chinese man throwing his bicycle at a thief on a moped than this post. But if I was on Facebook looking for a quick social fix, I probably wouldn't be reading this far anyhow.

I feel confident that I will enjoy Buzz, but I am even more confident it will do nothing to turn the tide of this mounting frustration with the dilution of meaningful relationship, community, and communication.

To engage more on these ideas:


Anna said...

I think I remember hearing about a study that showed that when people watched TV, the same parts of their brain lit up as when they were interacting with friends. When we recognize TV people, watching them becomes a substitute for actual interaction with friends.

I think of the internet in much the same way. It allows people to make connections they wouldn't otherwise make... and a little of this is good. But by and large, I think it allows us to satisfy our need for connection with a much shallower relationship than we would have if forced to interact with people face to face.

DK said...

Yes Anna, that's exactly what I mean by relationship over the internet being "easy". Everything that is hard about real life interactions (which makes it that much more meaningful) is infinitely easier over the internet (which makes it that much less meaningful).

I'm thinking of everything from pride, to integrity, to respect, to being able to run when things get hard (no one "needs" each other on the internet, because the shallow relationship they had can be found just as easily on the next facebook profile).