Thursday, October 15, 2009
Lab # 12
Social networking has created a very complex dimension in which we interact with other people. Indeed, it is a very good way to connect with friends you have made and to initiate new friendships. Social networking can have a very positive effect of building social capital.
It comes with a very strong caveat, however. Although virtual friendships and societies are fantastic supplements for real ones, that is just what they are: supplements. No matter how much you chat with friends on Facebook, when you hear the voice behind the words is when you truly know the person. One cannot hope to achieve a genuine relationship solely through virtual means.
Building social capital depends greatly on knowing and understanding the person(s) involved, and physical interaction is the best way to fully achieve this. The human connection is lost somewhat across the digital text.
This is not to say that social networking is all bad. The thing is that virtual friendships are a very positive, but not sufficient condition for building social capital, while physical interaction is both a necessary and sufficient condition for doing so.
My point is that social networking is good when used responsibly. To those who use it well, bravo. To those who use it obsessively, have 1,000 friends to whom you hardly ever speak, and live in the network, you must reevaluate your position. Virtual relationships cannot replace real ones, but they can smother what is real and dilute its value. As always, responsible use is superior to abuse. Just a little social networking can go a long way in building a lot of social capital.