Disconnected Connectedness
March 26, 2008, 2:33 pm
Filed under: coffee, culture, friends, technology, the purple door

In the exciting new world that is Web 2.0, it’s all about the social networking.  There are some very cool sites that help people network around common relationships, common hobbies, common web surfing habits, common wine palates, common brands of hair spray, common transportation choices, common preferences in vacation getaways, and on and on we go.

I personally spend most of my social networking time on Facebook these days.  By looking at my friend totals, you wouldn’t be impressed.  I’m not one to go around requesting friends for people I don’t know.  If someone I don’t know requests me as a friend, I’ll usually agree, but as far as I can remember, I’ve only made one friend request for someone that I haven’t had a personal interaction with at least once (and by “personal,” I include e-mail conversations).  I don’t fault anyone for racking up as many friends as they want, without knowing people . . . but I don’t understand it, either.

I find myself a little overwhelmed by the growing number of social networks I’m seeing, and being invited into.  I’m sure they all have value for people, which is cool.  I just don’t have the bandwidth to spend time in more than a couple of these things, keeping up with friends, making new friends, updating profile info, and all the stuff that makes belonging to these networks worth while.

I do love the extra conversations that I get to have as a result of these networks.  But the obvious drawback is that these are not “real” relationships in most cases.  In many cases, they make my friendships with people that are spread all over the world, a lot more fun, and easier to keep up with.  But what’s the saturation level?  And what about the friends you have that don’t want to go online to make connections? 

As usual, I’ve got more questions than answers on these things.  I’m just watching a lot of online interactions that lack the personal touch.  I know I’m not alone in being amused by walking into a coffee shop in Seattle, and seeing tons of notebook computers open, being operated by people with iPod earbuds . . . and what are they doing?  “Connecting” with people online.  It’s almost as though they didn’t realize that the reason they’re in the coffee shop in the first place is to be around other people.  There are actual human bodies all around them, but they choose instead to focus on the virtual.

This spring, we at The Purple Door, will be doing a social experiment aimed at bridging the disconnectedness of pseudo-connections.  We haven’t figured out specifically what it’s going to look like yet, but the rhetorical question we’ve asked is, “What if Facebook was real?”  Any ideas on what we should do?  Comment away!


1 Comment so far
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I don’t know but the first thing that came to my mind involved poking. Some aspect of poking should be involved.

Sounds like a great social experiment. Can’t wait to hear how it turns out!

Comment by Michael

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