We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” – C.S. Lewis
The topic at hand is in no way late-breaking. Rather, it feels like the time to comment here has come. Social networking sites have been a common conversational topic recently. The dialog will often begin with “You’ll never believe who I’m friends with on <insert name of site here> now!” My somewhat facetious response is “How is that meaningful friendship working out for you? Have you reached a social understanding of how you will treat each other?” While laughter usually ensues, one may also be left to internally ponder whether the definition of friendship has been picked clean.
The “networking” aspect of social-networking seems easy enough to understand. It is through causal connections that many people find jobs, seek out goods and services, pursue hobbies and activities that aid balance, share milestones, and generally get a glimpse of the wider community. There is much to be said for building a sense of community and having social networking sites play a part in the construction. However, I cringe when I see them being used as the corner stones; it just doesn’t seem like strong community building. Questions arise. Are social networking sites actually building meaningful communities and relationships, or are they acting as barriers? Can the foundation of a relationship or a community rest in postings to another person’s message board like graffiti on the wall for the whole world to read? Is positive intimacy fostered by tagging photos in someone else’s album? Do we create relationships of understanding by clicking on our 92nd friend?
In all likelihood the bias in these questions is quickly noticed. However, even with bias acknowledged, my mind is not set on the matter. There are many factors to consider: modern society lends itself to a global community, with friends all over the world; there are many we may be in common with but few ways to connect with them; the speed and pressure of our society requires creative outlets for forging and solidifying relationships. Mix in these factors, and many more, and the questions are no longer black and white. The grey answers, and a final opinion are certainly not forthcoming at this point. Rather, I’m throwing the questions out here to stoke the conversation a bit and see where it goes. (Hopefully it continues in person with some of you – there’s that bias again). Then, perhaps in a while, a more conclusive judgment of myfacespacesterbooks can be made. So, to keep things rolling: what comes first, the friend or the communication, the community or the network? We’ll leave with these thoughts for now…
“Friendship, like the immortality of the soul, is too good to be believed. When friendships are real, they are not glass threads or frost work, but the solidest things we know.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson