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Social networking: The good, the bad and the ugly

By Jonathan Fox
November 17, 2011

By Jonathan Fox

jonathanfox@riverreporter.com

A few weeks ago, while doing research for an article on local yoga classes in the Catskills, I decided to post an inquiry to my Facebook page, asking friends for their suggestions. Instantly, my account was flooded with responses, including information it might have taken me hours, if not days, to gather in more traditional ways. Although I had suspected that Facebook, along with other networking sites like Myspace and Twitter, were powerful networking tools, this experience made me even more keenly aware of the influence that these new media tools can wield.

Personally, I fought the idea of participating for quite a while, despite the hype and “friend requests” that began to accumulate in my email. Unsure of how it all worked, I gave in to the peer pressure and signed up. I’m a few years in now and find myself a devotee... with reservations. While the yoga information faded in my mind, I decided to address the issue of the power of the process itself and posted to my page, once again. This time, I asked my friends to tell me how they felt about Facebook, and social networking as a whole. The results were interesting and informative—and a few were alarming.

THE GOOD: Being able to immediately get information to hundreds (or thousands) of people is amazing. On a local level, I find that the isolation of living in the woods is vanishing. A lost dog, a nearby political rally or a party coming up in the next town over all can be announced and subsequently shared as the “information superhighway” hums along. When I post an upcoming event to my page, I’m sharing the information with my own community, and (as the old saying goes: they tell two friends and they tell two friends... ) On a larger scale, Facebook is a tool for putting us in touch with old pals from school, a place to play games with folks from all over the world, a forum to express our views, share photographs with loved ones and remind us of birthdays, giving users an opportunity to touch base quickly, in the fast-paced world we all inhabit.

Quote: L.F. from White Lake, NY writes that “It’s a great way to keep in touch with friends (from near and far) and can be a great tool for business networking.”