After bumping into a former high school acquaintance at a local dive back home, my friend Nick and I began to converse about how much people change over the course of a few years. After sharing some of our most notable encounters (and a few beers) Nick professed his excitement for the infamous ten year reunion. “I can’t wait to see what time has done to us all,” he joked.
Initially, I shared in Nick’s excitement; however, this excitement slowly dissipated as I considered my online exposure to former classmates. What do we need a reunion for anyway? The social-search power of Facebook and MySpace is all you need to stay up-to-date on the latest gossip, right?
Have these social networks spoiled all of my good reunion surprises? Possibly, but with a daily new user average of 250,000 people, Facebook comforts me by letting me know I’m not alone.
Nick, on the other hand, is one of the few outliers of my generation. Nick absolutely abhors computers! That must be why he is able to maintain his high school reunion excitement. This got me thinking how different our post-graduation social experience must be.
I thought about the thousands of news feeds that I have received over the past few years, the “pokes”, invites, groups, updates, and messages that I had sent and received. I realized what a tremendous impact social networking sites are having on our culture. These sites have made it very easy for people to build and maintain enormous social networks that are used for more than just gossip.
I tried to explain to Nick that a plethora of young entrepreneurs have utilized the networking capabilities of social sites to launch their own businesses/careers. These sites have changed the way we find music, clothes, and movies. They have allowed us to form groups, and organize parties, talk about politics, and publicly end relationships.
Amazing! Thomas Friedman was right, the world IS flat!
There is no denying that online social networks are powerful tools that can be utilized for countless functions, and if their expansive user base and rapid growth isn’t enough to convince you to join… at least you still have the reunion to look forward to… right Nick?