Social networking provides an opportunity for people in disparate geographic areas to connect, and allows communication between friends who might otherwise have lost touch. Prior to the advent of the Internet ,enthusiasts of an arcane hobby or followers of a certain type of indie music would rarely have connected with one another except in certain concentrated areas. Now, those with shared interests can easily make and maintain contact. In the same way, high school or college friends separated by distance and the demands of life can gain a glimpse into one another's day-to-day lives through status updates and online photo sharing, whereas a decade ago their contact might have been limited to Christmas cards and birth announcements.
Social networking provides ease of communication between individuals. Some people feel uncomfortable talking with others for lack of potential conversation topics, but they can have fun with those individuals by writing on their walls, poking them or playing with them on social media games. Sometimes, these online interactions can lead to more personal interactions and friendships.
I would be the first to admit that social networking has benefits: it is immediate, entertaining and allows me to keep in touch with old friends. That aside, I believe social networking contributes to a disappointing and disingenuous social life. Social networking replaces earnest interaction with pleasantries, leaving one yearning for human connection. Not only does one receive vacuous approval in the form of likes on Facebook or favorites on Twitter, but it becomes all one knows how to give. Interacting should be a little awkward, a bit uncomfortable--it should have the nuance of a human voice, the intimacy of a personal letter, and it should feel tough at times, uncertain, but ultimately worthwhile. When we replace most of our socializing with online social networking, I believe we miss out on another kind of immediacy, the kind that requires effort, a little discomfort in exchange for the deeper satisfaction of genuine connection.
Social networking is a valuable form of communication. It makes it possible for people to be able to quickly and conveniently communicate with large amounts of people simultaneously. It does not, however, generate any real emotion. A prime example to support this are the many memes that circulate among social media sites begging for assistance or help for people ill or dying. It is easy for people to like, make a comment and move on. But there is very little media evidence to support that such campaigns are successful on a large scale basis, which suggests that we are still somewhat detached from each other emotionally when it comes to electronic communication.