TJ Kelly

On Social Networking

What is it about my generation that makes us totally infatuated with this idea of “connectedness” and “social networking?” No generation before us ever cared so much about so little. Granted, they lacked the technology necessary for this kind of thing, but even now, when the technology is all but ubiquitous, they still don’t appreciate our desire to know everyone.

Neither do I.

Don’t get me wrong. I still participate in it. I very much enjoy it. But there’s something else to it. To our parents, we’re strange because we belong to these networks. To our peers, we’re strange if we don’t. I don’t subscribe to the idea that our virtual, parasocial relationships are as important as our personal ones. I’m not sure my peers see it that way either, but to an outside observer, that’s the way it would seem.

Take the number of subscribers to sites like MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, and Xanga. According to a comScore Media Metrix study, in August 2006, 79,669 different people logged on to these sites from home/work/university locations in the United States.

I don’t see a huge problem with my generation using these services as much as we do. I think it’s vane and narcissistic that we advertise our lives and show off how many “friends” we have. But hey—this is the information age. In today’s 20-something society, you have to publicize yourself. It’s all a game, right? Well, as with most things, it’s all just fun & games until someone gets hurt.

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