Posted by: rolfsky | January 15, 2008

social networking: because we miss our friends?

As I walked home last night, my neighbor called out to me inquiring about our new Prius. Reaching into my pocket, I quickly dashed off a twitter as follows:

my nosy neighbor is like an RSS feed for my life: “you got a new car I see…”

If telling Helen was equivalent to publishing this on a public RSS feed (she will undoubtedly share with others on our street), might the right collection of RSS feeds or friend updates might come to approximate what’s happening around me in my social group?

In all this, are we attempting to recreate the “village” experience online? Do we have some fundamental need and desire to communicate with those around us? Is our push towards online social networking illuminating a deep-seated dissatisfaction with our offline relationships?

Not to say that we don’t have and enjoy our friends in the physical world, but how many of them will we come into physical proximity with in any given day? Due to improved telecommunications, increased mobility from the automobile, the structure of our educational system and shifting economic drivers, most of our “friends” likely don’t live near us. Because of this, we are deaf to their daily mutterings and little victories.

How lame is that? I have no idea how most of my friends are “doing” today.

Much as Tivo introduced time-shifting to television broadcasts, our techological and social changes of the past 50 and 100 years have created a massive “place-shifting” of people resulting in a geographically dispersed group of friends. We keep in contact with them through email and cell phones, but because of the overhead involved, for only a very small percentage of my social group can I tell you if they are having a “good” day, or a “bad” day.

Yet in this, we fumble for that sense of connection, reaching out in the dark and trying to get a grip on what’s going on around us.

Why do we do this? Because we care. The more we know about what’s going on with “our people”, the more we can help them out or lend an ear.

Social networking is our first attempt and bringing those people back to our dinner table.



  1. […] pattern of “revivals” being the response to boiling frog problems. The other day I mentioned that it was “lame” that I didn’t know how most of my friends were on a daily […]

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