And last year I added another aspect to my social and professional life by joining networking sites. Professional online networking hasn’t really been a necessity for me so far, so to be honest I haven’t really put that much effort into it yet. I’ve started doing it, but with restraint, so to say.
But social networking took off a lot faster for me. As soon as I discovered that it’s a good way to find and keep in touch with old friends and acquaintances, I was sold on the concept. The invitation to Facebook came from an old friend in another country, and I thought it was a good idea. One doesn’t easily drop by in person, living across the border somewhere, so online is THE place to do one’s socialising in such a case.
I soon found droves of hobby friends, relatives and old acquaintances. It’s funny how adding friends to your list on a social networking site can have a snowball effect. It’s nice to share bits of information with everyone. You can get all kinds of reactions, and quite often people make me laugh – something I really needed at the time, but who doesn’t need that now and then, right?
But social networking can be very confusing. Although it’s nice to be able to look at pieces of people’s lives, you can see things you don’t understand. Take long-lost aquaintances, for instance. You may have found them on the Internet, but that doesn’t mean that you’re automatically up-to-date with their lives. After all, what they post is usually from the current phase of their lives, and their profiles don’t give you a full personal history.
So when someone you haven’t seen for many years says: “The baby woke us up early today”, you may think: “Baby? What baby?” Other people on the person’s friends list respond to the post and you’re beginning to suspect that they know something you don’t.
Someone you added to your friend list because you share the same hobby, may say “I finished my woodworking project today”, and you think “Woodworking? You mean to say that there are other hobbies out there besides photography? And that you practice one?” Makes you think, doesn’t it.
Or a very old acquaintance you haven’t seen in almost thirty years says he wishes he was back in his own country so he could enjoy the kind of breakfast he was used to, and you think: ”Eh? What is he doing in another country? How did he get there? When? Why?” The info he gives on the Net gives you more questions than answers.
You get friend requests from people that make you wonder how they came to feel that you qualified as a friend. People you have never met, for instance. The other day I got a friend request from someone who has exactly the same name (first and last) as my son. Although the name does look familiar, as it would, obviously, I really don’t know him. Why would I want him on my friends list? It would only be confusing.
Even some of the relatives on my list make me wonder about their posts. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really know much about the kind of life many of them currently lead. I see them discussing things that I don’t know anything about, and that in many cases make me wonder if I should have known about it.
The snippets of information people post about their lives can be rather confusing, sometimes.
Oh well, I suppose you can’t expect them to tell you their life story to get you up to speed first so that at least you will have some idea as to what they’re on about.
But confusing or not, I do like this social networking somehow. It’s not the most essential addition to my life, but definitely a nice one. I am interested in the people I know, so it’s good to see what they’re up to. And I have found that if you’re having a hard time with something in your life, there’s always someone around to make an encouraging remark. Often not more than a single sentence, but it can be helpful nevertheless. I like to use social networking to make me feel good, and it works. It does mean I have to block or remove the negative ones from my list to achieve that, but I suppose it’s not just farmers who have to separate the chaff from the wheat…