Our social lives have been changed irrevocably since 2004 when a
young student in the dingy dorm rooms of Harvard came up with a form of social
networking that has gripped the world, and with 750 million monthly users it
doesn’t look like it’s letting go anytime soon. But is this transformation wholly
During a recent conversation with a friend about the growing
reliance on social networking sites to maintain friendships and mankind’s addiction
to the internet, we came to the conclusion that, in today’s age of Facebook,
Twitter, and now the big G’s latest attempt at a piece of the pie, Google+, without
a web presence one cannot truly be said to exist. Now obviously this isn’t
meant to be taken literally. Deleting your Facebook account is not going to
cause you to spontaneously combust or slowly dissipate into an abyss of
non-existence (though severe withdrawal symptoms should be expected), but is,
as Descartes once concluded, consciousness still enough to determine subsistence?
Does thinking still guarantee being? Or is something further required, a
searchable online persona perhaps?
The forms of interaction that the millennium has ushered in have
obvious benefits; it is now easier to keep in touch with friends and relatives
who reside in far-away places, it’s possible to alert all your contacts to your
status without the hassle of sending a cumbersome group text, photo sharing and
event management have been altered beyond recognition, and, of course, having
your own online space allows you to express your personality and broadcast your
thoughts to a much wider audience than before the advent of such technology. But
in between status updating, tweeting, vlogging, blogging and now sparks, do we
have time for a real, face to face social life? Has going for a coffee and a
catch-up become somehow too ‘involved’ for this generations youth? And what of
our dependence (is addiction too strong?) on such sites?
Perhaps it’s too early to predict the long-term effects of such a
monumental change in the way we socialise; all that can be said with conviction
is that it has changed, and that, in the
absence of some unforeseen catastrophe, it will continue to change at a rapidly
Maybe it’s just nostalgia, or the grass-is-greener syndrome, but
wasn’t life more quaint before it all began?