Websites such as Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn has caused an important shift in the communications culture. These sites have become places where people can meet friends, potential partners, and even employers. Now, people join Facebook groups where they get updates online instead of joining local community organizations that meet weekly. However, some say that communications these days are fast losing its personal touch because of these sites. They say that social networking sites, though useful, can never substitute for the sincerity and the social experience of getting out there, meeting people, and interacting face to face.
Many believers of face-to-face contact use psychology as their main source of argument. According to them, face-to-face contact has many key benefits, such as enhancing people’s lives both socially and psychologically. Having face-to-face connections can make an individual healthier. It also promotes behaviors that are beneficial for the growth of the entire society.
Some people believe that the lack of involvement and communities is encouraging a population that is not socially oriented. Instead of making people socially oriented, social networking is producing self-reliant individuals who do not realize the importance of close communities.
However, truth be told, face-to-face communications are difficult to maintain.
Undeniably enough, this allows people to form strong, intimate communities that are not hindered by many factors that affect most face-to-face relationships. First, online communities do not have geographical boundaries.
Second, some people find it easier to communicate in a more detached, less personal way. Face-to-face contact adds certain ingredients to the mix, ingredients that do not invite open, sincere communication. Some of these ingredients are competitiveness, insecurity over one’s appearance, pride, fear of being embarrassed, fear of saying the wrong things, and so on. Through this, people can forget about appearances and just communicate, and communicating over the Internet gives them time to think about what they are going to say. Although still personal, online communications provide just enough anonymity so that people can express themselves more freely, without worrying about what they wear and how they look. Furthermore, perhaps the biggest advantage of social networking, in fact, is how it has given voice even to introverts.
Similar to the effects of mobile phones, the effects of this type of networking have, in the end, led to people who are more connected with one another, not because they see each other daily or regularly, but because they can talk to one another anytime they want to through the Internet. And even if friends become separated by geographical distance, social networking makes sure the connection stays intact.
The benefits of social networking in how people communicate, connect, and interact are undeniable, and even as critics continue to argue against it, the move towards online communications is not showing any signs of stopping.