Friday, October 06, 2006

Social impacts of social media

Mark Vernon at Guradian Unlimited has an interesting article about online social habits.

There is a new verb: "to friend". It is what happens when people link up on websites such as MySpace. It differs markedly from "to befriend" which involves getting to know someone. To friend is just to connect.

As Danah Boyd, a social media researcher for Yahoo, has said: people do not think of meeting their online friends - they only think of connecting, for all sorts of different reasons. Michael Bugeja author of Interpersonal Divide: The Search for Community in a Technological Age, makes a different distinction: "Friending really appeals to the ego, where friendships appeal to the conscience."

Sociologist Sherry Turkle, in New Scientist, expressed her worries that online living is transforming human psychology by deskilling us from being able to be alone, and managing and containing our emotions. We are developing new intimacies with machines that lead to new dependencies - a wired social existence, "a tethered self". Conversation becomes merely sharing gossip, photos or profiles, not, on the whole, the deeper aspects of commitment, community and politics.

There is no doubt we need more reserach into the social significance of social media.