Oct 25, 2007

[Web] Resisting Social Networks

Flickr: undersound - Tipping Point + Social Media Network
Tipping Point + Social Media Network
by undersound

These days, social networking sites seem all the rage. I have to admit that in the beginning, I did my fair share of exploring such sites. I was out and about on the web early enough to experience SixDegrees.com, what many consider to be one of the first social network services on the web. While it died out by 2001, the framework was pretty much there.

For a time I had a number of profiles - I had accounts on Friendster, Downelink, Orkut and even defunct local GLBT network Fabuloush for a time. Heck, I even had an account on the notorious hook-up site Guys4Men for what it was worth. As the number of social networks grew, I got more and more saturated and eventually in mid-2005, I decided to clean up my online accounts and get rid of the clutter. I left all those social networks behind.

Most of my friends could never understand why I did that - having a Friendster account in the Philippines seems almost like a requirement for the online generation of today. I guess I got tired of all the people claiming to be friends with me and so it just felt too weird. Throw in all the people at the office who knew of me but did not know me personally, and it all just seemed overly weird.

These days I only have Multiply, Shelfari and Flixster. I liked Multiply since it's a great place to host photos, videos and a back-up of my LiveJournal plus you have better relationship definitions and viewing controls. Shelfari is really just an online version of my library and Flixster plays on my love for writing reviews. The last two are keen because of how focused their natures are.

Now that doesn't stop people from trying to get me back on the social networking bandwagon. Friends and family alike keep sending me invites for this network and that. I doubt I'll ever go back to Friendster - it just seems overly cluttered as compared to the modern offerings these days. I don't feel at all tempted by MySpace given how public it seems and more often than not it has become a haven for sexual predators, haha. Don't even get me started on LinkedIn since I think I spend enough time with my officemates so getting into a social network them doesn't make sense to me.

Facebook seems to be getting a lot of attention these days and there's been a significant increase in invitations for the site that I've been receiving as of late. A friend arguing for the site pushed how the applications were really what made Facebook different even though it started just as a college-centric social network service. Still, I don't see a big reason why I should just yet.

Even though I like the more focused networks, I don't feel inclined to join either iLike or iMeem anytime soon. I like my music but I don't see myself hanging around a website built around music since I'm never any good at remembering artists, albums or song titles.

Others argue that it's a great blog-promotion tool to get into one of these things but I don't know if that's the track to go. Is there really a significant rise in traffic brought on by social network activity? I don't think it would be enough to merit all the spam and bacn that comes with it.

So what do you think? Am I just being a stick in the mud for keeping out of the bigger social networks for now? Do you need to be sociable to really enjoy these sites? I'm really looking for your comments and thoughts on the subject and wondering if you can explain why you continue to support these sites. Do you have a particular social network you feel especially strongly about? Why would you recommend it to someone like me?

Let the comments fly!

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