Thursday, May 27, 2010

In My Opinion: Social Networking

Alright, let's have a nice discussion here about social networking. Roughly, the Internet first had e-mail and a few chat programs like AIM and ICQ. Then came sites like Friendster, LiveJournal, and Facebook. I will admit that I was one of the first people on Facebook, way back when it was open to university students only. Now, there's Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, and a myriad of other sites.

Now everyone and their pets (literally) has at least one page on at least one site. Some people have the applications on their phones, some people never leave their computers. Some people deleted their profiles but couldn't stand being away, so they created new profiles.

The point is, everyone is using these networking sites. It seems as though employers keep track of their employees this way, people are fired over blog posts and tweets, and people are being stalked.

Perhaps a little melodramatic, but sometimes it feels like stalking. My point is that family members are finding each other on these sites and former classmates and coworkers. So, my question is:
Have social networking sites nullified the need for in-person reunions and certain family functions?

Why get in a car and drive three hours to a class reunion when you have been following your former classmates on Facebook since graduation? Why fly to a family reunion when grandma posts updates every day?

I feel like I have two lives - an online life and an offline life. Some people fall into both categories, but most fall into one. I don't need most of my online friends involved in my offline life and I don't need my offline friends and family involved in my online life. Maybe it's just me or maybe I have some sort of Internet-induced DID.

I have a simple rule that I follow since I have the inability to say no to most people who send me a friend request. I will add them, but if they are coworkers, bosses, or family members they will have restricted access to any posts I feel necessary.

At least some social networking sites give us that control. It might seem mean, but sometimes having a little bit of control in one's life is nice.