This is a guest article by Denise Gabbard who writes on the topics such as selling on Facebook. You too can be part of this great knowledge sharing community. Take a look at our guest blogging guidelines.
It’s pretty obvious that social media sites—Google Plus, Facebook, LinkedIn, and hoards of other similar online social sites—are here to stay. Their popularity is growing by the day, and the newcomer on the block, Google Plus, has grown faster since its launch than all of the others put together. Does this mean that we’re becoming de-personalized as a society?
Are Social Networks good places to make real friends?
I’ve had lots of discussions about this topic, both online and offline, recently. People who aren’t comfortable with computers and the internet seem to fear being left behind, and there might be some truth to that. I know that our friends who aren’t on Facebook are sometimes out of the loop as to what’s going on; it’s certainly not intentional, but we have a tendency to post things on Facebook and then assume that everyone in the gang knows.
Of course, some people resist social networking sites because of privacy issues and a perceived lack of in-person interactions. Many of these same people also feel that online networking will cause people to lose their social skills and ability to connect with others if they aren’t in those types of situations often enough.
Online networking seems to give rise to a couple of problems that I’ve seen. First, it seems that you will always have some people who are just ‘trolls’ and enjoy being negative, mean, and vulgar to others behind the shield of the internet. We have seen some cases where this type of behavior has led to suicides among teenagers who had fragile self-images to begin with, and I am sure there are lots more cases that we don’t know about where these unbalanced people attack others anonymously. Secondly, it seems that people who lack social skills (ie, the painfully shy) will use it to interact online but don’t know how to get past that stage. My single friends talk about this all the time—guys “friend” them on Facebook and talk a great game, but never ask them out, or just disappear after lots of heavy flirting. (Datus interruptus?)
Because of the widespread acceptance of social media sites, it’s possible to meet people all over the world at any time of day or night. Those with similar interests can find you and reach out to you via cyberspace even while you are sleeping. It is pretty amazing when you think how far we’ve come in such a short time; our sphere of influence increases daily, and is likely much larger than we even realize. However, when you “meet” someone new online, it is important that you get to know them, what you have in common, why they connected with you. The same types of questions you’d ask at a friend’s party are surely fair game in this situation. (Where do you live? Where are you from? What do you do for a living?)
Networking with local folks is probably a great idea for those in the dating world. You can learn a lot about someone, including how they interact with their friends, by getting to know them virtually before an actual meeting. In fact, it can be great to meet someone in person after you’ve known them alone for a time; just be sure that you still have some things to talk about.
The jury is still out about social networking, but it would seem that it can only enhance the process of getting to know new people. Certainly, cyberspace will never replace a warm smile or a handshake from a friend, new or old.