in Digital Web

Social Networks and Ordinary People

You know, we’ve been sitting around awhile, teetering about an idea that would allow folks in ordinary, non-city areas to connect, develop and discuss ideas. Abstract or more fleshed out, it’s very difficult to meet eclectic people in a non-college setting.

I like the idea of a social networking platform. But I tend to think — like all things techy — that not enough of these tools are really adaptable or useful enough for ordinary people to use. To me, sites like myspace, facebook, LinkedIn or whatever have you, are all part of what I’ve been calling the “trading card nature of friendship.” It’s as if, no one really cares if they make meaningful connections anymore..they just want to show all of their other ‘friends’ how cool they are.

Social networking sites should ideally connect people of different niches and should — at their best — give a voice to the voiceless. I don’t think that it seems anyone really cares about that. Moguls are too busy trying to plod and create things that have widespread appeal and get lots of people buying, selling and being involved.

I get why they do it. It makes sense.

But I have a hard time believing that facebook can become some sort of phenomenon like craigslist. You have to realize that sites like craigslist worked for a reason. People swear by it, because they have some legitimate reason for doing so. I can point to my summer in Boston back in ‘03, when I interned there and found a computer, my apartment and a variety of other random stuff all because of the good ol’ CL.

Facebook hasn’t done anything than maybe replace the role that classmates.com used to play back in the day. But myspace does that too. And all that is, is reintroducing random people from your past back into your life. And that’s not always a good thing. ;)

I think while the new platform will be huge from a valuation standpoint and it’ll make investors continue to drool over that company, I have a hard time believing that it’ll lead to some sort of cultural revolution.

Kids don’t set trends, they simply consume trends until they get bored with them and find new things to pick up, play with and use. That’s why no one uses pogs anymore and why slap bracelets are a thing of the past. And part of why it’s not very useful to try to figure out the significance of what they’re doing, because the trends usually move too fast for anyone to keep up with anyway.

People don’t understand the acute nature of popular things. You get really caught up in what’s popular for you. You care about what works in your neighborhood, what influences you and your friends. It might be a ‘bigger’ trend on some level, but that doesn’t necessarily result in some sort of major representation of society as a whole.

I think social networking and blogs are just a representation of the fragmented society we live in. The same society that ignores people who don’t look a certain way, whose stories aren’t interesting because we can relate to them and who gets cast aside by the message that says ‘this is important because we value it and everything else simply doesn’t matter.’