A Social World

On Twitter the other day, one of the hashtags trending (if you’re not a tweeter, this will make no sense to you) was: “I miss the 90s because”…

And a large majority of the comments (after the nostalgia tweets about Hey Arnold!) was the fact that there were no social network sites.

This got me thinking – because, after all, I am a child of the Social Network so to speak, and I’m addicted to Facebook and Twitter.

Social network sites are taking over the world, really. MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and on and on until there is no private corner of your life that isn’t displayed online. People can even see what websites you’re browsing on Pinterest! And yet, ironically, tweeters waxed lyrical about the halcyon bygone days before social networking. What makes us so addicted to Facebook and blogs and Twitter, and yet strangely hate it as well? I know plenty of people who “don’t like Facebook”,and yet there they are, with a badly-taken profile picture of them artfully head-tilting and usually drink in hand, posting cryptic statuses (bitching doesn’t get better than statuses that MAKE NO SENSE but are clearly about someone), adding photos of their dinner and creating albums of their holiday entitled Wasssuuuuup: Corfu 2011.“Oh, it’s just a way for me to keep in touch with people”…well, yes, that is the idea of social network sites. The clue is in the name: SOCIAL. NETWORK.

This isn’t really a rant in either direction – I love Twitter and Facebook (and yes, I really do keep in touch with friends that way, and no I don’t post pictures of my dinner – mainly because it’s generally very uninteresting). I like the idea of sharing pictures and stories. It would be weird if I didn’t – I have been described as an “avid blogger” after all.

But why the disgust for the social network? Why the nostalgia for when it wasn’t there?

From my recollection, the 90s weren’t that great (though Hey Arnold!was awesome) – too much denim and an overpopulation of floppy-haired boy bands. Did I miss something? Were the 90s a decade of hedonism and wondrous experience? And if it was, did the advent of the social networking sites ruin it all?

Before the internet, we had phones, and before phones, we had letters. Whatever way you look at it, people always find a way of keeping in touch, sharing their story and letting the world know who they are. Don’t get me wrong, Facebook and Twitter eat up my time so badly that I am at risk of being a hermit that never sees the light of day and just sits in front of their computer tweeting all day. Facebook was my favourite procrastination tool at university, and I know so many times when I’ve been Facebook stalking instead of doing what I should be doing. So I’m not jumping up and down in an “I heart Social Networking” top and passing out if Twitter waves at me as it walks by, because I’m simply not a die-hard fan. But I’m not a hater either.

So what I started thinking was: all these people tweeting about what they miss from the 90s, all these people saying that it was better when there were no social network sites – just look at how they are expressing their opinion. They are sharing their idea and their story with the world (in 140 characters or less). So don’t go around dissing it, when you’re a product of it.

Social network sites are the new tools of communication – get over it.

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