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Are social networks really social?

With websites like Facebook and Twitter constantly attracting new users on a day by day basis, there is no doubt how popular the social networks are.

But in a world of increase reports of medical conditions like depression, do social networks indicate underlying issues with the world today?

BC – before computers.
There is little argument that computers have transformed most people’s daily lives. If you do not use a computer yourself, your life is certainly affected by them, either through technologies like mobile phones, or even the switch to digital TV and radio.

But there are other factors at play, of which computers usually get the label. Up until recent history the world was a very big place, in fact a person’s world would represent a small part of the world as a whole.

Go back one hundred years and people did not really travel, they worked within walking distance and most day to day purchases would have been bought and manufactured locally. In fact without the invention of mass transit or haulage, our world today would be a much different place. You only have to visit some areas of the world today to see how quickly life gets primitive.

In times gone by, there was a sense of community, not because life was better, but purely down to necessity. If you needed some sugar, you had to go out, walk to you local shop and buy some. By default you had to interact with real people during the process.

It’s cheaper at Amazon
By 2000, much of what people needed for their day to day lives could be bought online. The benefits of online were simple, get what you want and cheaper. Of course having to wait for shopping to arrive at your door was a pain, but with many goods being substantially cheaper, most people who start to buy online continue to do so.

When you don’t have to leave you house to get the goods and services you need, many people choose this route and the upshot of being less social becomes apparent very quickly.

With the invention of cyber sex, virtual dating and social networks, many people choose not to interact and potentially get hurt in the real world.

If it’s online it’s not cheating
Computers are great at dealing with standardised data, and for most people’s experience with online life, it’s no different. Go on to Facebook and you can pick and choose exactly what experience you want.

Don’t like someone, you can drop them from your friends list in an instant. By not having to be social in these settings, means we are more unlikely to be so.

With a virtual world, if we do not like what being said, we just hit the off switch….

It is not surprising that in modern times we have see a raise in internet related sexual crime and mental disorder. Of course we should never say ‘kill the evil internet’, but for many we should not only talk about a work life balance, but also an internet life balance.

Rather than acting out social fantasies, physically connect with people in the real world.

Quite often people mistake social networks as a place to be social, but quite often using a social network is a solitary experience interacting with other solitary users. At the end of the day although social networks are useful in today’s age for connecting to people and having fun, unless you contact with those people outside of the social networks in the real world, how is it different to talking to a computer generated avatar inside a computer game?

Choose the real world, choose life…..