August 09, 2006

Social Networking

Social Networking is the new buzz word of the day, and the Internet is changing it. Let’s not forget how to write a personal note, and let’s continue to pick up the phone when appropriate, but let’s also acknowledge that social networking online has added a whole new dimension to how we can connect.

The researchers who just published a study indicating that Americans are particularly isolated, discount this avenue of social networking. An article about it ran in the Washington Post.


I didn’t know much about (60 million registered users) before I heard the buzz about it at BlogHer. I’ve run into it several times since. Now I just have to have one. Last week, a waitress who is a new mom told me she has a MySpace site. Monday’s Wall Street Journal mentions MySpace at the top of the font page because crafty marketers are creating fictitious sites to place ads on other user’s sites. Grrrrr. Last week, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a story about how one man is using his MySpace site to help find missing teenagers. It’s not just for teenagers, it’s for moms and non-moms alike (even dads and non-dads). This post by a Chronicle editorial writer sums up the social world of MySpace quite well.

Survey Says...

The study mentioned above was conducted by General Social Survey, a federally funded think tank engaged with the mission of finding out what Americans think. It included phone interviews (we all love those, don’t we?) with 1,500 Americans.

“We know these close ties are what people depend on in bad times,” she [Lynn Smith-Lovin, one of the researchers out of Duke University] said. “We’re not saying people are completely isolated. They may have 600 friends on and email 25 people a day, but they are not discussing matters that are personally important.”

I felt the research must have overlooked the Internet and the myriad of ways people are connecting there. Others are blogging about it too. They have done us a service in pointing out how and where we may be vulnerable socially, which brings me to being childfree. Ours is a path less traveled and it is important to find others who are fellow travelers, in person and online. The benefits are obvious. How to do this may be less so, or more of us would be doing it.

Future post: How to improve your childfree social network.

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H.A.Page said...

There isn't anything in the world that compares to sharing and having it be face-to-face! How can one laugh alone and have it mean as much as shared laughter??? However, having said that, I find your post very interesting and you've taken the subject deeper!

I did not go to BLogHer, but have found in blog studies that the Mommy Blogs provide a social outlet that is probably beneficial, given the geographical disconnection many families have to relatives and the isolation many moms encounter while staying home raising children. The me-centric nature of most of them puts them in more of a journal-style of blog.

Although my blog is female-centric, my identity (and most of my interests) at this point, with teenagers, is beyond motherhood. I should have named it WhyPie or something. That's why I think I'll have fun w/ my blog.

Glad to have found you!!!! Thanks for the link!

ChrisR said...

"but they are not discussing matters that are personally important"

Oh, really?

I've had more homes than birthdays and I spent 3 years living in Western Europe. So I'm pretty mobile and so are many of my friends.

I've got a friend from Sydney days who now lives in Zurich, a friend from Edinburgh days who's back home in Melbourne, my 2 oldest girlfriends both live in Brisbane 1500km from here ... and I mostly use e-mail to stay in touch with them all.

It's been a wonderful way to keep the connection, and yes, we do type about the important stuff.

And, as you say Teri, the internet gives me access to wider communities of like-minded souls instead of always being the odd one out.

I think the thing to remember is that the internet is but a tool, it's not going to replace networking skills/ desires you don't have.

Teri said... - When you put it that way, I totally get it about how moms and blogging go together. A new mom is home alone with a child and maybe a bit scared or lonely, wanting to share the experience and get advice...and there sits the computer.

ChrisR - Yes, the pull quote you highlighted also rang a little dismissive with me. Makes you wonder if they've ever heard of blogging. As you point out, it's a cost-effective way to stay in touch with friends when they are miles away.

It's really hard to generalize about blogging. It is evolving at such a rapid pace. I do it almost every day and it constantly amazes me. Of course, not everything out there appeals to me. Truly, there is something for everyone.

Really great blog ideas and blog uses get overlooked, the ones that really ring true on and individual level. My favorite local talk show in Toronto did a segment on blogs one week and the day before they asked their loyal viewers to email in their favorites. I sent in my suggestions and was very disappointed with which ones they featured. They were only outstanding in "can you believe what some people will blog about?" aspect.

Political blogs and mommy blogs may always have the limelight because they address a bigger market. Newspapers and corporations are trying to figure out how to be a part of what's happening in the blogosphere, some with more success than others -- but they know they need to be there. It's really dynamic.

MotherPie said...

Just wanted you to know you're on my blogroll!

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