Someone once told me that the beauty of emails, text messages and Facebook is that you can portray the best version of yourself.
Being able to censor certain parts of your life, create word-perfect messages or project a life that you wish you had holds a certain appeal.
Sites such as MySpace, Twitter and, possibly the patron saint of them all, Facebook give anyone who's harnessed the power of the Internet
the opportunity to upload every event and thought to their own indulgently canvassed profile page and in turn be a voyeur in the lives of
their 'friends'. I am the first to admit that I look at the pages of people I hardly know but am oddly fascinated by their opposite lives.
I have a couple of old school friends who now have throngs of children, husbands and houses with this juxtaposing to my single, rented apartment,
'is it OK to have a wine with breakfast?- universe.
Getting personal with virtual strangers and depersonalizing people we actually
know puts a haze over what we call a 'friend'. Did you know that you can be friends with Facebook itself as well as with inanimate objects,
pot plants, pets and unborn children? The definition of 'friend' has been completely redefined.
So, how many people are actually
using these sites? Facebook currently has a membership of more than 400 million active users, with each user having an average of 130 friends.
Apparently more than half of these users log on for a little less than an hour each day.
Twitter is still somewhat a mystery (well,
to me anyway) and with the sole application of updating your status over and over, it's difficult to glean why is has such a widespread appeal.
The creators are notoriously guarded about statistics such as the actual amount of users and one can only speculate as to why they aren't into
sharing and caring as much as other sites. Perhaps it indicates the fad nature of such an idea with no real substance to sustain any type of
MySpace has fallen somewhat out of fashion for your everyday punter with only a quarter of the users of Facebook.
Aside from your garage bands and wannabes, individuals have jumped on the Facebook train leaving MySpace at the platform with an almost
exclusive musical audience. This is not saying it isn't successful with many talents being discovered there, however it's much more a
business interface than leisurely look-see.
So what does all of this over-exposed, 24-hour access, out in the open, online behaviour
mean for the future of friendship? Probably the most damaging result has been misinterpretation or discovery of illicit photos or messages
that have lead to the breakdown of real life relationships or loss of jobs. Granted, after the many times I've wanted to delete my Facebook
account I just can't bring myself to. I love seeing photos of people on their travels, new babies of loved ones, days (sometimes, disturbingly,
minutes) after they're born and reconnecting with long lost friends. It all comes down to self-control and common sense. Have fun, don't
put your credit card number as your status update, avoid posting photos of you pashing strangers (especially if you have a partner) and you'll
be fine. Rather than changing the way we interact, it's more or less just widened our choices and although more developed social networking
sites such as Facebook are here to stay, there's no way 'poking' a friend on Facebook is ever going to be better than a warm hug.
Author: by Louise Heather / Posted: 12-04-2011