The problem with social networks these days is that there’s too much and too little compartmentalising.
I have a lot of friends in several different groups. If I sign up to Facebook or MySpace then all of these groups will very likely collapse into one. Now I’m a lot less bothered about this than I once was but certainly I used to not like my cool music friends to meet my geeky programmer friends. Now my cool music friends are often as not married with kids friends and my geeky programmer friends go to more gigs than I do. Perhaps it’s a function of growing up or time changing things but I worry that on these social networking sites there isn’t a way to compartmentalise in this way.
I wasn’t willing to give up my first love of computers but I did deny it several times. And because people come to things at different times I probably you have had to de-friend my geeky pals to seem hipper had Facebook been around. Something I wouldn’t have wanted to do. I don’t see how you avoid it except to hope that all of your friends in one group use bebo and the others friendster.
But this leads to the second problem. Now that I don’t mind my friends meeting across the groups I want all of my friends to be able to find me easily. The fact that there is a new social network popping up every five seconds seems to be a bit of a barrier to this. It would be great if someone solved this problem but there seems to be almost too much personal self interest in that for that to work.
The final problem of social networks is the de-friending process. People naturally drift apart in the real world. They see less and less of each other and then you kind of stop being friends. Nothing harsh or dramatic it just happens. There is no equivalent on these systems. Here you have to declare that you have stopped being friends. Perhaps it’s less honest but it’s certainly more socially awkward. Perhaps friends you don’t interact for over a year should quietly fall off of the list?
As my feed from this blog gets repeated on facebook I would just like to add that if you are reading this on facebook then let me assure you that I’m not talking about you.