First I want to reply to the post of my Twitter friend and colleague George Frink with whom I DM’ed via Twitter lately on SNS and other issues, and here I have the need to explain, actually clarify his latest post as response to my previous Online friending. The point is that I never said that virtual world relationships are “nonexistent”, real people are behind their avatars, names, user-names etc., as well as social networking on Web at certain aspects are re-establishing our analogue connections and establishing or fostering new connections with people we meet or will meet (both online or offline).
What I was stressing out is that certain group of people, SNS users – e.g. in Serbia, Belgrade, groups from teenagers to adult are networked online all the time, living in pretty obvious proximity in the city, and yet they rather communicate via chat communication channels, social networks, exchanging messages, poking each other, etc. and never (or rarely) appear in analogue world socializing with their virtual friends from the hood. I was reported also by the parents who were complaining, giving up from their kids who spent hours and hours online with their friends, probably not understanding the process, how they are all networked either playing games or chatting, while they could meet in real hood surrounding or some caffee or community center.
This is also a problem for older population of SNS users in Serbia: they rather send messages via Facebook (email is now passe, as well as the usage of text messaging) or MySpace – you can see them hanging online and participating in all given applications. ” If you don’t have Facebook profile- you are not ‘hype’ “.
Also, in this case, it is hard to draw the line between their real and virtual identities as ‘being somebody’s friend at Facebook’ is not ‘hype’ but also group limited issue – “you can be formaly my FB friend but I have smaller group of friends in the (FB) city with whome I poke, virtual fight club, hug, send to each other drinks, chocolates, etc.”. And there are collectors of ‘friends’. Nothing is virtually different considering users behaviour as it is in real life, just instead of face-to-face communication, when is very possible and given/gifted by geo-spots, they choose secure virtual playground. Why?
The other opposite FB scenario is happening these days (I hope it’s not due to my previous post) with adult group of professional computer users (web designers, programmers, bloggers, information professionals, etc.), who are quitting their Facebook accounts. One of the example is my colleague and friend, highly respected designer, who yesterday shut down for good his FB account because after months and months of networking with others, having virtual drinks, etc. he realized it’s getting tiresome, and he doesn’t find any interest in staying at this social network where everyone (in his network) was ‘posing’, trying to be ‘hype’. ‘His fellow commenter’s shared and approved his opinion as it’s better for them to socialize via Flickr or Last.fm, or some other vivid discussion group. This also goes to my statement on real, analogue identity versus ‘hype’, ‘fake’, neo -“Neo’ matrix created identity for common user of SNS in this part of the world. Analysis on this issue will and goes deeper to sociological, psychological and geographical level of research for this kind of phenomena and behaviour. Real friendships will strengthen no matter what, fake one that would lessen either in real or virtual life would happen the same, in the same environments.
So far, someone’s largest social network is it’s own web site or blog. Couldn’t it be any better, useful and safer place for people to find you and contact you, if needed?