Everyone is buzzing with twitter becoming more used by everyone. Facebook has become the place where you find people that you never thought you would hear from again. Yelp has awesome information on local places and overall interesting tone to reviews. But, is social media really bringing us together or actually ending friendships.
I’ve been a web junkie since the early days of the world wide web. I remember when it was ground braking to have frames on your page and most pages hurt your eyes kind of like most myspace profiles do now. I’ve been part of several internet communities as both a moderator, member and lurker. I understand why having a low ICQ means something to many. I know what a BBS is, had my own IRC channel and shared files online way before napster. I have probably received more hoax e-mails than snopes has listed. I’ve had my own personal blog since January of 2004 and a personal web page since 1997. I have my merit badges when it comes to internet navigation.
During all those years I have learned quite a bit about netiquette and internet personas. I learned that the internet has its own tone and have met my wife online as well as some of my closest friends.
I am not getting on some electronic high horse here, just trying to set up my observations about a recent trend that I have been noticing. When it comes to connecting people that know each other in real life first, the net seems to have adverse effects. However, it is not the net as much as social media that is causing this phenomenon in my opinion.
Facebook puts a whole bunch of people you know into a bucket together. Then it turns the window that a blog used to be into someone’s life and it makes your internet presence a french door. Your life is now on display, who your friends are, what you ate for lunch, what time you went to bed, where you spend your free time, if you have a virtual pet. The last election let people know not just how I felt, but how those around me felt. Through me people connect to my wife and my college buddies as well as people that I went to high school with. Who you know starts to form people’s opinion of who you are in a very macro way. So far it sounds great, people connecting and learning about each other, but what happens when that turns ugly?
The first trend that created a bleep in my radar was the, so and so removed me, how dare they? Or what did I say? Some of it is simply a difference on humor, religious or political view, most of it is just that people might not really care what you have to say or think. Overall, most people that get a twitter account or a facebook account today are new to the whole internet thing, and someone that has heard it all just does not want to go watch the hamster dance for the 800th time. The reason we all have friends and get to pick them is because we find the interesting in some way, people we knew in high school or years ago might not be all that interesting anymore.
That is when drama starts, but in this new area of social media disconnecting someone is almost as easy as finding them through the people you might know. Back in the day where forums where the form of community communication, people cared a little more about being banned and learned by community policing. Today, you can just remove friendship and not hear from that person every again. The ugly side is the hurt feelings.
During normal face to face conversation we are more used to editing ourselves. Even someone as blunt as I am keep a lot of thoughts to myself. Not sure if people just get more free when sitting just in front of the computer, but thoughts and words that I know would have never been shared face to face seem to flow like a river.
Mafe recently had to deal with some of her friends’ girlfriends get jealous just because of a simple hello. Sponge probably ended a friendship over a mass e-mail response. I’ve had two high school friends already delete their facebook profile altogether because of people’s nasty comments. They were people I enjoyed being able to connect to, and e-mail for some reason is not as interactive as facebook seems to be. So is this social media thing really making true friendships or really just ending some already existing?