Online Social Networking - Good or Bad?

online_social_networkingA good friend recently told me he had pulled down all of his online profiles because they just didn’t give a clear picture of who HE really is. While taking a very long walk on the beach this Easter Sunday, I thought about this. I spend a large amount of time networking on the web. In general I find it a useful tool to keep up with friends, family and clients. But my friend has a good point; it really does not show who I really am, except on the surface.

Spend some time on my LinkedIn page and you will learn about me “at work.” This is where you will find my qualifications, new listing news and a very professional looking portrait. I find it useful to keep up with clients and colleges. The same goes for my Plaxo and Active Rain profiles. My aunt Suzie decided to link up with me on Plaxo and she must think I am all work and no play! What a boring niece she has. Nowhere is there any evidence of my wicked sense of humor or any pictures of my kids. Somehow her posting that she is a fan of Desperate Housewives seemed a little out of place.

Now, if you find me on Twitter you will find “fun me.” This is where I post little bits about my long walk on the beach or the great restaurant I just found. You will also find links to my hiking trip reports. Wow! Does this girl ever work?? You would never know that my average work week is close to 60+ hours. In fact you might even think I could be fun to hang out with!

Then there is Facebook. This is my favorite social medium because of the many ways that it allows its members to express themselves. I try hard to use all of them. Pictures, links, comments, updates, pokes and gifts. I love them all. However, think you know me now?? Not even close. You will catch a bit of my humor but you miss the sometimes off color or sick side of it. My hobbies are obvious and so is my love for my kids and my pets. You will find a few of my fears, hopes and loves but what about the less than attractive side of me? God knows I am not perfectly tempered all of the time. Just ask my husband! You won’t know that I leave coffee cups all over the house or that I am secretly upset that my daughter got a tattoo – before me. It will go right over your head that I believe in angels and a sixth sense. My discomfort in crowds won’t be an “update.” You definitely won’t learn about the trials in my life that forged me into the strong woman I am today. For this and more you would have to really get to know me, and a bottle of wine would help (sulfate free, please).

After mulling it over, I agree that social networking on the web has its limitations. It doesn’t have to be deceiving; though some people try that. It is shallow however, as my friend noted. For most of us it is a mere snapshot of who we really are and a fun way to stay in touch in a busy world.

“I do not know myself and God forbid that I should.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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