What’s the point of social networking?

Norman Rockwell’s painting “Party Line”

Often I’m asked, “Why do I want to sign up for a social network? Twitter? Or write a blog?” and for many the answer is, “Perhaps you shouldn’t. It might be too early for you.

For many of us, participating in social networks and using social media comes naturally. We have the gadgets and computers, fast Internet access and, most importantly, are connected with other people discovering and using these technologies. For many other people, there’s little or no point to participating since their real-world social networks aren’t yet leveraging these technologies or, like some people I know, they and their friends only use computers at work and a cell phone for talking.

I recall my now deceased grandmother, born in the late 1800s, tell me about the introduction of the telephone to the farm she grew up on in rural South Dakota. At first there were party lines only and eventually they got a private line, but it was years before people accepted this device into their homes and became comfortable with the behavior changes required to use it. Even today, people that could truly use a free telephony service like Skype — and with someone around like me that could teach and handhold them all the way through the learning curve — are remarkably slow to adopt it even though they could see and talk to their loved ones on the other side of the world for free.

Social networking and social media are but baby steps along the way to significantly powerful, ubiquitous and pervasive Internet-centric human-to-human connections. They’re still messy and chaotic, but as more and more of us use them and point out where they fall down, the better they’ll become and the more of them that will be introduced.

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  1. Anonymous Jones on June 24, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    This did not answer the question “Why use social networking?” You essentially said, “Because everyone else I know is doing it.” I’m a gadget- and technology-obsessed, high-speed-Internet-dependent computer user and a Web site developer, as are many of my friends, and I’m still looking for an answer…

  2. Steve Borsch on June 24, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    One reason that social networking is important “Anonymous Jones”, is that real people are connecting with other real people.

    Perhaps you’re “still looking for an answer” because you’re not stepping-up and being real on the ‘net?

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.