Verlyn Klinkenborg comments on social networking.
I get wind of a new site, pay it a visit and discover that it already has a population four times the size of some midsized countries — everyone speaking the local dialect, taboos and kinship patterns well worked out, a robust economy and brisk trading with other social-networking sites. I have begun to fear the result if one site declared war on another. What if Bebo fired upon fubar? What if LinkedIn threatened to blockade imeem?
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One effect of so much social networking — so many overlapping communities of interlinked individuals — is that the language of actual human interaction begins to feel degraded. What can the word “friend” mean after Facebook, where it is really a synonym for “coincidence”? How subtle can the emotions be in a TiVo-ish world like iLike, where it’s thumbs up or thumbs down? There’s no room even for the hand-wiggle that means “meh.”
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I hope there will be room soon for some anti-social Web sites — places on the Web where you can go to be alone, to hide from your “friends.” Perhaps that is what real life is for.