The Devil at the Table: Social Networks and you, Part One

We need Facebook and Twitter.  We need Google+.  Damn it. We need it and we shouldn’t need it but we do. Because we’re a global village now.

That sounds horribly hippy-ish, I am aware. But it also makes sense. Years ago, it was possible to exist in a very small, closed loop.  You had your family, you had your friends, you had the people you went to school with, people you worked with. Some of them lived outside of your community, out of the state, but you never really did a good job keeping up with them.  If a person lived in Kansas and you lived in New York, you were at the mercy of long-distant telephone charges to keep your connection alive.  That costs money.  If you wrote a letter, it took a while to get there, making the information in that letter dated by the time it reached it’s target.  The world was larger when I was a kid. This isn’t an exaggeration, or something that old people say sometimes, shaking our fists at little kids running through our yards.  This is the truth.  I’m typing on a computer designed in California but built in China.  I’m listening to music coming from headphones built in New York, and I got them by ordering them online in D.C.  You can take classes online in a completely different state and it is possible, easily possible, to have a teleconference with a guy in France, a guy in Russia and a guy in Germany, all of them sitting in their offices, talking about important issues in real time.  This world is inter-connected mainly because of the active and necessary spread of capitalism.  The side effect is an ability to have huge social groupings, groupings that are boundless and can be maintained relatively easily.

The “easily” part is the biggest factor when you think about why Google+ is even needed and why other social networks like Myspace and Friendster seem to die off.  Yes, it is possible to know over three hundred people and, yes, it is possible to communicate with all of them.  That ability, to have multiple contacts in multiple ways, is not out of a human beings limits. However, social networks have to A) keep up and B) make it easy.  Failing to do so makes the social network useless and pointless.  People have been asking, do we need another social network?  I already have Facebook!  The answer is, no, you probably don’t need another social network.  But what you do need is another social network that works, simply and effectively.  And Facebook does do that, but it is part of our system that challengers will be created.  Competition, even though it is difficult and unfair, does breed a better product.

So, don’t feel bad that you want a Google+ invite even though you already have Tublr and Twitter and Facebook and all the other avenues of exhibitionism/voyeurism.  You’re looking for that “One Special Thing” that will satiate your deep desires to know what Fran from College ate for lunch.  You know you want to know what she had for lunch.  You know you do.

Is this good or bad?  That’s an entirely different question.