Is Social Networking Really Social?

New Yorker Cartoon

"You'd know that about me if you followed me on Twitter"

Does the blog conversation replace good old face to face conversation? How do face book, twitter and other social networks line up? This has been a much asked question. And I so don’t have all the answers. Especially not taking into light what happened in Egypt. But much has been written about it. I  find stuff written around it but no answers.

Remember those 1970 and 1980 self-help books? We all read them. They were best sellers in the day. Supposedly they were to improve our relationships and make our love life more fulfilling. They claimed if we knew ourselves our lives would be richer. What happened to that? I know for a while we saw those relationships reborn on our TV shows.

The internet replaced those relationships. Face book makes you think you have close friends. But the reality of it is you don’t post on face book what you can say in person. Email became the new phone. Now instead of making a phone call one emails. Twitter replaces the idea that one’s interests are really interesting to others. You must have a hefty following so that at least some would be interested in your tweets. We all hunger for connection. But that stuff doesn’t really satisfy. One can’t make life long friends over twitter. At least I don’t think so. And I think that is why I love blogging so. I wrote about how I love the connection the blogging community gives you in a earlier post. And I wonder if it replaces face to face relationships.

I confess I don’t know the people on my street. Granted I live in the country and can’t even see my closest neighbor from my house. The only time I see my neighbors is after a snow storm and we are digging our cars out.

Recently after a snow, I ran into another neighbor whom I hadn’t seen since last year about this time. He started gossiping about the others neighbors and showed how little he really knew them. This also made me sad. And when I tried to say good-bye he wouldn’t let me leave. He was trying to extend what little connection we had.

Even my very next door neighbor who shares our driveway will leave a note on the door without knocking. Are we so worried about ‘bothering’ the other or are we so afraid of reaching out that we live in our own isolated world?

It looks like people are doing computer stuff rather than talking to their neighbors.

What do you think? Does social networking replace real networking? Does the blogosphere replace real people talking to one another?  Comments welcome.

You are the light of the world.

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About ClaraBowmanJahn

Journal writer. Author of "Annie's Special Day" And coauthor of Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story." Proud mother and grandmother of wonderful kids. Wife of brilliant husband. Servant of two cats. Member of Pennwriters and SCBWI.
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11 Responses to Is Social Networking Really Social?

  1. nrhatch says:

    Excellent topic for discussion, and love the graphic you chose.

    I do blog to form meaningful connections. Over time, I grow to know (and sometimes love) my cyber neighbors. Facebook and Twitter don’t appeal to me as much ~ except to point the way to blog posts that might interest my “friends” on those sites.

    Even when we grow to know one another in the blogosphere, I don’t think that cyber friendships are the same as sitting side by side over a cup of coffee, or splitting a pizza with a close friend in real life while chatting about the week’s events.

    As with most things, balance is key. If you’re interested:
    http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/virtual-friendships/

    Thanks, Clar

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  2. clarbojahn says:

    Thank you for that link to your post on ‘Cyber Friendships’. It is just the discussion I was looking for. I left a comment on it, to add to all those of your ‘friends’. I feel we are forming something of an acquaintance, don’t you? I see your name in all the places I go on the blogosphere and by reading your posts and comments I am getting to ‘know’ you.

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    • nrhatch says:

      Thanks, Clar.

      If you’re interested, I have a few other posts on the topics of Facebook, Twitter, HootSuite, etc. Just search by word (e.g., Facebook), or by category (Social Media & Blogging).

      Sure. Cyber connections give us a chance to get to know other. We learn a bit today, a bit more tomorrow, etc. We start to feel “familiar” with each others interests, likes, and dislikes.

      And we don’t even have to tidy up the living room in order to entertain each other.

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  3. clarbojahn says:

    Thanks nr, the above link is the epitome of how good it can get. One of the comments even had a story of how they use email in their church’s prayer chains. All good stuff. Up until six months ago I was only using the computer for email once a week. Then I got a special chair for my back and then we got a high speed internet connection and now I’m loven’ it.

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  4. jannatwrites says:

    I love blogging and the people I have ‘met’ through blogging, but it is definitely not the same as a face-to-face friendship. Here’s why: What I put on my blog is filtered. I am a private person, so certain things will never be on my blog. Because of this, there’s no way that no one could know me well enough to call me a ‘friend’, like we would someone we met with regularly in daily life.

    Now,when I meet friends for lunch, we dish on the personal stuff and laugh ourselves silly. Those moments just can’t be shared on the web.

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    • clarbojahn says:

      Hi Janna,
      I am also different on social media. It’s all planned out what to say. I tend to think more before replying (probably good and I should do this in real life but don’t). I wish I could come with you to lunch and laugh myself silly. 🙂

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  5. Clar,
    I use social networking to communicate with people I know but rarely see and to connect with those with similar interests I have yet to meet. I also use it as an introduction to my writing.

    That said, I live in a neighborhood community and count my next door neighbors as good friends. During spring, summer and fall we share dinner on occasion and get together for a glass of wine and /or spend time in our hot tub with them and still I rarely see them in the winter except to exchange Christmas gifts. The days are too short and everyone is too busy. We do email though.

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    • clarbojahn says:

      There was a time I almost moved into a neighborhood, after my late husband died. I thought it would be so helpful to have car pools. And the neighborhood I was considering was a whole lot closer to work. I do see my female neighbors in a once a month bookclub that has thrived for over four years so that’s something. But I really think they use social media over lasting friendships. I don’t think any one sees each other at other times. I’ve had the occasional coffee and desert with some. But basically I envy you that contact. It’s a dessert out here.

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  6. suzicate says:

    I think social networking is superficially connecting while face to face is on a much deeper level. I even find that blogging is much more personal than Facebook. We bloggers talk intimately, share, and discuss. Facebook and Twitter are much sorter attention grabbing messages. I think people today often think they are so connected because they can reach anyone anywhere at almost anytime…why how much do they really share intimately? Thought provoking post.

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    • clarbojahn says:

      Thank you Suzicate, I agree with all your comment. FB and/or Twitter don’t hold water next to blogs. But I still like person to person intimacy the best. And I’m sure you’ll agree with me there.

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