Social networking is one of those things that can be a blessing and a curse. I have been on the net from way-back-when. No seriously, I really have been doing this since before it was all the craze, I was into bbs even before they were linked up with fidonet. I won’t go into my geek-history but know that I was on IRC back when there was only efnet.
Anyway, these days there is everything from myspace, facebook, and a zillion other spin offs. Why mention any of this as it is old news? Well, community matters. We are social creatures and even if we are busy with work, family, and everything else we still want to feel like we are a part of something bigger. We are humans after all and we like our “pack”.
The down side to social networking has been explored ad nauseum.. you know the drill: they are catty, support falsehood, create drama, and give a false sense of friendship. All true and like anything else in life social networks can be used for good or evil. You take a risk putting yourself out there. However, the positives I think are starting to outweigh the negatives as things become much more marketed to our various interests.
We have MeetUp that allows you to pick your group and go hang out depending on what you are into. There is a livejournal community for Madison, WI that allows people to read the journals of all those that sign up. Want to get together with other photographers in Madison and share your work on flickr? There is a group for that too. The list is endless really. Social networks, even those that don’t get together allow for conversation and a feeling of belonging. The specifics of something like business connections within LinkedIn and stuff like FetLife for those that are into the kink/bdsm scene allow for a more direct networking capability.
There is a magic that happens when you can be part of a network that could be business, friends, or lovers… one never knows but it requires joining to find out for sure. These days you may be shy, unsure, or uniformed but the internet and social networking will allow you to dip your toe into the water and see what is out there. For better or worse (read: twitter) we are curious and we want to know what others are doing, saying, and feeling. Social networking allows us to be a part of something while still being a voyeur.