I maintain my share of profiles in several networking sites, for some this might be laborious. Maintaing several profiles demand integrity, time and maturity. If users don't have those, I think don't think social networkings sites will do us any favor. Instead of bridging communication gaps, it will lead to global extinction and social wars.
But good thing that majority can manage social networking sites that its level of popularity is constantly growing. Aside from my personal blog (this one), I maintain one group blog (which I have to update) and two social networking sites that have transformed into my virtual hard drives. I'm not even counting the "less popular" online organizations I've signed up for.
The world has gone smaller and virtual indeed. More avenues of interactions and "keeping in touch" has never been this better. Email has become the underdog now. Sites like Myspace, Friendster, Facebook, Multiply and a couple of professional networking sites, offer what one would have in a regular interaction. Unlike human interactions, these sites are organized and comforting in such a way that you get to choose what you want to divulge without holding anymore explanations and unnecessary expectations. These virtual sites provide an avenue to reach out and explain oneself in a systematic, organized and customized fashion. Not all people can manage to interact flawlessly and regularly in the flesh, but it only takes a click to get connected and informed. Social networking sites have gone beyond just providing organized information about a person, it offers an entirely different package of interaction that makes the world smaller day by day.
For a non-techie person like me, one would think that these sites are a bore. Initially I felt that way as I've never been the type to go on chatrooms unless I need to. But I realized that I'm the type who expresses better in a virtual world, I think. I've maximized some advantages that these sites have. I can express myself in an organized way without forcing the information on someone through blogs. I can always get in touch with people and share some proud and not-so-proud lessons and events that have happened in my life. And at least they would know several ways to reach me. Most importantly I find it fun, useful (as hard drives) and therapeutic.
As convenient and as accessible as these sites are, they can also hold the pretty nasty end of the bargain. It's a devil in itself when people get consumed by it. Some may have been so consumed that they forget the hierarchy of life over virtual city. They depend their sole interactions on the net; and information fed on this basis might not always be reliable. These sites only serve as the representations of a person, chosen in a degree that depends on the owner. Others are not aware that these sites are mere slices of a person's real life. Concern of this nasty effects keeps growing day by day and printed in the news. There are countless reports of individuals being harassed, killed and hurt because of solely depending on the information given in these sites.
A social networking site is also powerful in an evil perspective. As powerful as it is to reach out to people, to get people connected and strengthen relationships across the globe, it is also seen as a powerful tool to do the opposite. It could as easily destroy relationships, destroy reputations and physically, emotionally and psychologically harm a person. These social networking sites may be the new breakthroughs that have created an entire world of "social technology," but like any other world, this is not perfect. Ironically it's so powerful that it's not foolproof. I'm not fooling around when I say that one day we may have come to terms to creating a "social networking task force."
Others aren't forgiving to themselves either. A level of control and a degree of privacy should always be considered when one is mature enough to enter this social tech world. It's not quite appealing for people to open all their guts freely when they could just have been "enjoyed" privately. Some even people amuse me on how candid and open their lives are since they have no qualms of sharing every little bit of that's happening in their lives in Facebook and in Myspace. Some want to keep people informed and some have developed goals to keep their profiles as stellar as they can possibly be (if they can't be a celebrity in the real world, might as well try the virtual one) . I have no problems with that as long as they can justify and stand by it when certain positive and negative effects spill over the real world.
As I add another particular (delayed) site under my belt, I always maintain a specific rule to be truthful and always use integrity as a base of whatever I would willingly share in the public. I also know how to keep certain things to myself and know the degree of when to "shut up." My sites may be so intense that it seems I pour all my time, heart and soul into it. That is true to some extent, but my life is so big and ever changing that even these numerous sites cannot accommodate. These sites are true and may represent me the best way that they can, but it doesn't change the fact that they only cover a bigger slice of my real life.