So social networking has developed in leaps and bounds, since the days of Bebo and Myspace in which your teenage self would update that oh so famous ‘Myspace pic’ and change your page song reflecting your mood. Progressing to the realm of Facebook and now Twitter, it is hard to image a time when social networking did not exist. Particularly in my generation, growing up, online networking has become the norm. The virtual world of communication in which individuals you may or may not know can communicate through a screen may seem bizarre to some, but isn’t this what the modern day of communication has resulted to?
However, it seems that this realm of social networking has been taken to the next level. Whereas before these networking sites simply seemed a way of communicating with friends, this then evolved to acquaintances, people you knew vaguely, people you were interested in learning more about but may not be classified as a ‘friend’, work colleagues, friends of friends, people you met on a night out… hence Facebook introducing categories to which you can classify your friend groups. I don’t personally use this, but the option is there if desired. Your friends count on Facebook is no longer your whole friends group in reality but simply a way of connecting with everyone and anyone you have ever had an encounter with. After all, Facebook’s aim according to Mark Zukerberg is to join people together, to unite, to make everyone simply ‘connect’.
Therefore, looking closer at Twitter, the aspect of ‘friends’ is removed; you simply ‘follow’ who you like, when you like, you do not even need to know the person anymore. Kind of sounds a little bit stalker-ish when you think about it like that, doesn’t it? More positively, Twitter opens up a world of opportunities: A way to search for jobs, meet people you have always longed to know, connect with people who think on the same level as you. However, more interestingly, I wonder if Twitter has become a new way for people to flirt and date online without the physical interaction and awkwardness that real life may create, just a thought. Do we not put ourselves in a position where anyone can know our inner thoughts, and you can connect and communicate with strangers who you don’t even know in a fun and social way?
So long to actual dating websites, maybe Twitter creates a realm in which anything is possible in just 140 characters. Is Twitter the new Match.com, in which people interact, ask questions, chat publically and privately, send links to things which may be of interest, just like in real life but in a more casual way and through a computer screen? Gone are the days of being extra cautious about which information you share. Instead these networking sites have become a place to specifically divulge your greater thoughts; a way of expressing what is on your mind. The private and personal has actually become public. What you feel is just words on a screen, is actually available to the world, or as much of it as you access yourself to. I am sure we are all guilty of talking to people we don’t really ‘know’, but does the screen in between protect you, or do we not need protecting anymore? Is the future a world in which everyone simply connects and we develop friendships because of these online communications?
If this is the case, it does make one question what the future has in store for relationships and friendships outside of a social networking realm. Although sites such as Twitter create a world of opportunities, equally there are hindrances to this access all areas arena. Will we one day all become virtual bodies, online identities, living vicariously through our networked characters, or will we stay true to making the effort to communicate as often in the real world?
In the meantime, whilst we ponder over our future, as I’m already connected, follow me if you want to be part of this new social world: @Lucia_Paulis