Friday, April 24, 2009

Social Networking

"The great paradox of 'social networking' is that it uses narcissism as the glue for 'community.' Being online means being alone, and being in an online community means being alone together. The community is purely symbolic, a pixellated simulation conjured up by software to feed the modern self's bottomless hunger... As I walk down the street with thin white cords hanging from my ears, as I look at the display of khakis in the window of the Gap, as I sit in a Starbucks sipping a chai served up by a barista, I can't quite bring myself to believe that I'm real. But if I send out to a theoretical audience of my peers 140 characters of text saying that I'm walking down the street, looking in a shop window, drinking tea, suddenly I become real. I have a voice. I exist, if only as a symbol speaking of symbols to other symbols." ~ Nicholas Carr, "Twitter dot dash"

I think I agree with Carr for the most part. Why do we like these sites that allow us to broadcast to everyone on our friends list what we are doing? We can take the most minute parts of our life and broadcast them to the world as a headline. It is kind of narcissistic to let everyone know what we are doing at any moment in time. That becomes even more clear when we get a comment by a peer on said headlines, that means someone read it and thought about us! I confess, I get that feeling if someone comments on my Facebook status.

Is it harmful? I do not think it has to be. I think the social networking sites can be a great avenue for keeping in touch with friends and family and just having fun. Can it be harmful? If we take it too far it can. It can feed our egos because it allows us to make the minute moments a headline. Also, as Carr says above, when we are online we are actually alone. The online "community" might be satisfying for a time, but it is not replacement for real world relationships and if we let it become that it will leave us empty people with exaggerated ideas of our own importance.

You know what is ironic about this blog entry? It is going to show up on my Facebook page as a Facebook Note since they are linked...

By His Grace,

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Interesting, and while I agree that there is certainly a way to take it 'too far', I must say that I haven't seen it yet.

My friends (myself included) dont use social networking as a way to feel important. We don't use it when we're alone. We use it as a way to keep in touch with other people who aren't around, or to meet new people...

It's interesting, but most of my friends have a way to update their status from their phone, and they do so quite frequently as they are hanging out with friends and family.

Narcissistic? I disagree. Posting what you are doing is only part of what makes social networking, well, work. The other part comes from interest in what other people are posting.