Social Networking Sites and How They've Changed Us

Photo taken by Simon Cataudo. (scataudo) There are no usage restrictions for this photo
Photo taken by Simon Cataudo. (scataudo) There are no usage restrictions for this photo

It has been said that the eighties generation, or Generation X, represents a transition generation. Of course, society is always in transition, but, in recent years, there has been a dramatic shift in the way that people interact with one another. This change is not only unprecedented, but has enormous social implications.

Members of this transitional generation can look back to, and remember a time when people got together for dinner at each other’s homes, wrote physical letters with ink and paper, took group vacations, had summer barbeques on the weekends, used the phone for speaking to people, and ate dinner together as a family. It's not the first time that things have changed, nor will it be the last, but there is a significant difference between the generation immediately before and after this transitional generation.

Increasing numbers of people are joining social networks such as Facebook and Twitter; finding old college roommates, high school friends and old co-workers there. People use these networks to organize reunions, share jokes and videos, post pictures of their family, and even share what they had for breakfast that morning.

As the members of Generation X are beginning to enter middle age and realize that time seems to pass more quickly than it used to, they find these networks present them with opportunities to reminisce about the days of their youth. But, the popularity of sites like Facebook shows that this age group has become the first truly disconnected-connected generation; a fascinating contradiction. While users log into this medium and post their current status, likes and dislikes, their favorite shows, no one is actually talking to each other.

Gone is the era of picking up the phone and calling someone to have a conversation, replaced instead by emailing, texting, online chats, or having distracted conversations with someone on their cell phone - usually while they are in line at the grocery store, driving, or worst of all, in the bathroom.

It’s futile to fight change, as it's inevitable and mostly good. For instance, in recent years, technology has allowed the combination of direct deposit and a debit card to replace going to the bank every week to cash paychecks and the need to carry around a wallet full of cash for groceries, gasoline and other common expenditures. But, how many people actually have a teller that can identify them? There is also the great convenience in the ability to immediately find a recipe, a book, a movie, a map, or other information online. But, something has been lost, and the members of Generation X are probably the last generation that will even notice it.

There is a different quality to social interactions today. The online community is anonymous, inherently disconnected, and is a poor replacement for the true community that existed in the days when most families would sit out on the porch for long hours on summer nights and actually talk to each other. Neighbors were friends, who would say hello to you and lend a hand while you worked on your car or keep you company while you trimmed the hedges. These things still happen sometimes, but it's different than it was. Connections are more tenuous than they were, and it’s highly likely that your next communication will occur via email, text message, Facebook post, or blog entry…


Daniel J. Foytik: Social Networking Sites and How They've Changed Us

is copyrighted © 2009 by Daniel J. Foytik. All rights reserved. All content, and concepts presented in this work are owned by Daniel J. Foytik. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the author.

What do you mainly use Facebook for?

  • Keeping in touch with friends
  • Sharing YouTube videos
  • Stalking old boy friends/girl friends
  • Trying to be funny
  • Sharing photos
  • Playing games (Mafia Wars, YoVille, Café World, etc)
  • I hate Facebook
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Comments 16 comments

equealla profile image

equealla 6 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

I told my kids the other day: If some kind of cataclysm hits all the technology in space, I do wonder if the young people will know how to write a letter and send it!

Very true words and thought provoking.

Congratulations on the hubnugget nomination. 6 years ago from bear, de, 19701

Social Networking site changes life gradually and steadily. How about neighbor ? how? We sometimes need to meet face to face. remember we live in reality.

DFoytik profile image

DFoytik 6 years ago from USA Author

@equealla I've had that same discussion with others myself; it's a bit scary how dependent we've become on our technology. Thank you for your feedback and your congrats!

@nbbatt: Yes actual human contact is so important, it;s sad how we sometimes lose sight of that.

Linda 6 years ago

Great article. Insightful and true.

elayne001 profile image

elayne001 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

Technology seems to bring the good and bad together. Just think of all those who have lived to be in their 90s have witnessed, gave up and accepted as normal. It is hard to keep up with technology for sure, but some are forced to. Thought provoking hub. Thanks.

Mia Sun Manion 6 years ago

Great article Dan!!! It speaks volumes of how our society has become disconnected in so many ways. I love writing and receiving snail mail:)

ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi Dan, I do facebook to update and promote my hubs. I find that it's the hubbers who interact more with me than my family (who I interact with daily) LOL I loved reading your thoughts on this topic. May it bring about more awareness about ourselves and our sense of connectedness with each other.

Congrats on your Hubnuggets nomination, to view the Hubnuggets, click here:

DFoytik profile image

DFoytik 6 years ago from USA Author

@ elayne001: Yes, it is a blessing and a curse at times. The main thing is that we not allow the conveniences to lull us into neglecting actual human contact.

@ Mia: Thank you for reading and commenting! The intimacy of a handwritten note, and the tactile experience of holding paper in hand when reading are definitely worth preserving.

@ ripplemaker: Facebook is a powerful tool if used to it's true potential. I have a deep fascination with the interconnectedness of people and things, and how seemingly insignificant events and interactions can have a huge impact on each of us and society as a whole. It seems to me that the movies and TV programs I've most enjoyed drew heavily from this concept: Star Wars, Lost, Twin Peaks to name a just few. It also seems that if you watch for it, people and opportunities come into our lives at just the right time. Sounds like another Hub article to me :)

DFoytik profile image

DFoytik 6 years ago from USA Author

Its, not it's. [sigh] That one slipped by me this time.

JKeiser profile image

JKeiser 6 years ago from Halstead, KS

These sites have made it easy to be a socializing recluse. I shudder to think what will happen if our current communication system goes down -- who all will survive that? I know I will, but I wonder about the younger ones.

Great hub and congrats on your hubnugget nomination.

DFoytik profile image

DFoytik 6 years ago from USA Author

Thanks for your comments and the congrats! If the solar flares come as they say we'll have to see what happens. We have become so dependent on our tech. I'd definitely miss it, but I think I'd get by without. I do expect pandemonium however.

Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

Hi DF, enjoyed your article very much. In Texas it seemed everyone had a front porch and often a bench swing in it to enjoy times outdoors and to talk to the neighbors passing by. The "Y'all come see us y'hear!" was genuine and many did just that. The local church would have a "dinner on the ground" that was pot luck rib sticking finger licking cuisine that everyone laughed, talked and sang over. In California they may get together but most of the conversation will have been texted, emailed or tweeted before they show up. Courtship will be by email and family get-togethers by Skype. It reminds me of the board meeting in the film Demolition Man in which the screens on the meeting table turned to view the few humans in the room. Shakespeare said the first thing needed was to kill all the lawyers, but maybe these days the first thing needed for real social interaction is to power everything off. Nice to have you on HP. =:) 6 years ago

Now what I found is very interesting, while working on social networking site the work is no more work and it becomes a fun. We meet a lot of people, we go through different types of profiles, we come across different thoughts presented by different people and the same we do when we are not actually working on our desk. I never noticed any tiredness while working on social networks which I always faced while doing some other tasks.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

On the NPR website I read that people are taking in 3 times the amount of information than their predecessors in 1960. There is indeed an information overload, and it is often difficult to walk away-to take a walk!

Wonderful hub, DFoytik!

Barbara 6 years ago

Disconnected-connected. How very wise. I use Facebook to see what my sister is doing across the United States. So very far. But I would so much love to receive -and send - a short little letter, maybe a pretty card that I can add my thoughts to. Thanks for your insight.

pearlgirl812 5 years ago

Thanks Dan for another great article! There are 108 classmates on our group Facebook page. Since so many are living out-of-town, or out-of-state, the social networking has kept us in touch instead of no contact at all and it's been a lot of fun. You mentioned that it's also a great avenue in preparing for a class reunion and you were right. At the same, this article is a great reminder of our need for human contact. Even so, our friends use this online messaging to plan girl's night out! One of the best things for social networking is being able to see pictures of our relatives and friends, especially when the kids are growing up so fast. But we all feel like we know one another with this avenue instead of being out-of-touch. We'll just have to do e-vites for in person events, before 11-11-11 at 11:11am! Thanks again for the perspective.

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