Facebook is the currently-popular social networking website that boasts over 550 million users. It is the epitome of what “Web 2.0” is supposedly about — personalized, user-created social content that connects people to one another. And it does that pretty darned well, too. I’ve re-connected with old friends from high school — friends I hadn’t seen or talked to in over 20 years — and even my first girlfriend from middle school.
Are these connections “deep”? No, of course not. But they are very real and they exist. Before Facebook came along, these connections were non-existent. These people in my life had faded not only from my life, but from my memory as well.
Facebook changed all of that and brought them back into my life, no matter how fleeting or shallow our relationship now is.
After viewing The Social Network, the recent popular movie about the rise and rise of Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook social networking website, and reading You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto by Jaron Lanier, The New York Review of Books reviewer Zadie Smith comes away with this insight — perhaps social networking sites as popularized today are not the end-all, be-all of our existence. Perhaps we should step away from technology, as it tries to force us into its paradigms of design.