In the last couple of weeks I’ve started to notice how online tools such as Facebook and Twitter have changed the way we develop relationships.
Some people use these tools for business, and others to keep in touch. Some join, but can’t seem to find a way to integrate them into their lives, while others can’t believe their lives ever existed without them.
Traditional sociology studies reveal men form bonds over shared experiences and women bond over a shared secret. Perhaps social networking has changed all that. So how does social networking impact the way we bond, develop relationships and communicate with our communities?
For my part, I’ve spent most of my life moving from city to city across North America. Trying to stay in touch with key friends, but often finding it difficult to find time to call, e-mail and write everyone that I’d love to talk with.
Social networking tools have created a way for me to keep in touch with these people more regularly, letting them know what is going on and providing them with an opportunity to respond in their own way, at their own time.
It’s the same way my friends from university, who are scattered across North America, have formed a support group for a friend who is suffering through brain cancer, and the way I find out about events happening in my city.
Postings can invoke deep thought, one-off comments, or can make someone call to see how you are doing. While my virtual community isn’t just outside my doorstep, it has been an incredible support system that seems to be on all the time.
Some tools like Twitter open new worlds. Where else can you communicate with a group of people, some of which you’ve never met, that have a mutual interest and are scattered across the globe.
Meeting these people 10 years ago would have been left up to chance. Today, we can meet them with a few clicks of the mouse, and in doing so create a new and different community.
Regardless of how you use them, social networking tools have changed the way we communicate with one another. But do they bring us closer together? That really depends on the user.
If you are showing people a piece of the real you, and others reciprocate, you are closer. Social networking tools can be an amazing way to build a community — you just need to give them a chance.
Christina Biluk is Director of Engagement for FUSION Halifax. Visit FUSIONHalifax.ca to find out how to get involved in shaping our city; firstname.lastname@example.org.