I had the joy of spending time with Songbird last weekend, someone I would have never met had it not been for the blogosphere. Now we keep in touch using a large variety of methods: blog (hers a lot, mine not so much lately), facebook, twitter, text messaging, chat and email. So far there has been no skype.
It got me to thinking of the pros and cons of these relatively new means of communication and interconnecting and so I ask you the following:
1) What have been the benefits for you of social networking (blog, twitter, facebook, etc…)
New friends! Gosh, this blog (and its precursors) have brought dozens of new friends into my life, many of whom are now real-life friends. Then there’s Old Friends! Facebook has been a resource for finding some old school friends, particularly from childhood, and I’m delighted to get a sense of where and who they are now.
Twitter has both reinforced some existing friendships (as a backchannel way of keeping in touch about small things) and brought some new cyber-friends into my circle. I’m still working out what it’s for, exactly, in my life, since people use it in so many ways. I didn’t begin to use it with regularity until it became so crucial in reporting what was going on in Iran, and I’ve varied between being a public user and a protected user. I’m back to the latter, now. That means I have to know who you are before you can “follow” my tweets.
2) Which medium do you use the most? Or if you use them all, for what do you use each of them?
I’ve partly answered this above, but to go further, I use the blog for writing about family and church and the inner life, Facebook for connecting with people I already know (including people in my current church) and Twitter for seeing what’s going on in the wider world. On Twitter I follow a mixture of real-life friends, random clergy I’ve never met (and by random, I guess I mean I started following them because they talked with a few of my friends, and then I stopped adding people to follow, so it’s a sample based on a short period of time), a few news people and a few celebrities. (Yes, I follow @PeterSagal and @NathanFillion and @MoRocca. Wanna make something of it?)
I play some Scrabble-type word games on Facebook; I do not play Farmville.
3) If you could invent a networking site (with no limits on your imagination), what would it provide? What would it not provide?
I haven’t used Skype very much, but if it were part of Facebook somehow, I bet I would use it a lot. I suspect that kind of interface, where we can be multi-tasking (take that, Apple iPad!) and video-chatting, is coming soon. I’ve had a video chat with one friend and her little daughter on Google Talk, but again, it’s not a big part of my life yet.
4) Who have you met that you would not have met if it were not for the ‘miracle’ of social networking?
Lots of my RevGals, including kathrynzj herself, and a whole array of mom/academic bloggers, including jo(e), Phantom Scribbler and Jane Dark. There are many more I still hope to meet someday. I had lunch the other day with a friend I met through blogging (Hi, M!), and we realized it must have been five years ago that we first connected through the comments on Phantom Scribbler’s blog. That was the bright beginning, and though I’m not sure where blogging is headed, I’m glad for all those friendships.
5) Who do you secretly pray does not one day try to ‘friend/follow’ you?
This has already happened, and I commend to you the “ignore” function. We’ll say no more about it.