Changing social fabric

posted on 24th of august, 2007

After a bunch of blogs related to photography, I thought I'd try my hand at something else. And as the new assignment is “Communication”, what better subject?

Humans have an innate need for communication, and every time there is a new method of doing so people flock to it. I'm actually becoming rather fascinated by the phenomena of on-line "social" networks. But I’m wondering whether all this is going to induce any changes in society at large?

In the past, I must admit I have been rather dismissive of these, except for the professional network sites such as LinkedIn. LinkedIn has proved itself to be extremely useful... basically I've more or less posted my CV there and on occasion have had people get in touch with me to see if I would be interested in a career opportunity. But it has also been useful in getting in touch with people who have experience working in a technical area that I might be having an issue with in my work.

At various points, I have been on an on-line social network of some sort or the other... but I quickly gave up on them as they just seemed after a while to be a vehicle for predators looking for a quickie, or hoping to find a soul mate.

I know of a lot of people who are addicted to these sites. So much so that they hardly ever engage in any other social activity, preferring to stay in front of their computer screens and “socializing” on-line. This phenomena is fast becoming the new “hanging out at the mall”. Is this in some way going to erode conventional socializing? Are people going to forget how to shake hands and look each other in the eye over the next 2 or 3 generations?

On the other hand sites like MySpace have helped artists such as Lily Allen and Arctic Monkeys launch their musical careers. And who knows which blogger is going to end up creating the new Harry Potter?

But what about trust and privacy? Is there at all a boundary that says that a person has gone from being an friend on-line friend to just a friend? Is there even a need for one? What can one tell someone one has never actually met? In the “real world”, there are circumstances when one can judge a person’s importance to us or the strength and depth of a relationship, but is it possible to do so on-screen?

Or maybe none of this should be taken all that seriously, maybe it’s just a way to pass the time, or even a way that is faster and easier to keep in touch with old friends and family. But it is a behavior that is becoming more and more prevalent in our world, and I wonder what it will say about us in 10 years time.

I’m curious to know what different reasons there are for the upsurge in this type of socializing and if people actually get some sense of satisfaction from “virtual” socializing?

Comments (1)

Posted by Lisafx on August 27, 2007
Very interesting questions you have posed. I guess every new technology can have its pitfalls. Certainly it is possible to become isolated by only having online interactions. It is important to also get out in the real world and interact with people. Going to school, belonging to a church, club, civic organization, and having a job in the real world can all help to keep you grounded.

Thanks for the thought provoking article and also for using one of my pictures! :-D

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Photo credits: Andrea Antonio Pastore, Lisa F. Young, Aman Ahmed Khan, Abdul Sami Haqqani, Franz Pfluegl.

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