Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Psychology of social networking sites

Nobody passes a day these days without checking out or without getting an invitation to join a social networking sites, they are the in thing and if you are not a part of these vogue stuff, you will be branded out of touch with the system, and with those net junkies , the peer pressure adds up even more.

If you start digging deep into to the psyche of the social networking site, we can understand our human carving to be associated with a group. This didn't start recently and has been since from our primordial days, man (and women too) started moving in groups for the want to food and safety which eventually led to the birth of villages , cities, countries etc and etc. Being in a group (except if you are a true lion which by probability very low) just adds to your comfort and you feel more courageous if you are among the crowd of like minded people. (Refer single theory , group theory etc or those pranks in your college days).

The key tenet of Internet has been collaborations among a diversified groups and initial days of web was all about consolidating information, it was a good foundation which led to newer interactions with somebody/thing whom you wouldnt have dreamt of meeting . For a society whose constituents had a shrunken vision of life, thanks to the widely accepted materialistic values, this was hardly sufficient and thus started chat .Chat was(is) a transient interaction and it built good (and some bad too) relationships. Evolutionary theory started playing a role and gradually web started moving towards social networking.

I dont have a clue about the exact birth of social networking sites (wikipedia is a different genre ) and am sure our wikipedians would take care of that, there are numerous popular soc networking sites like myspace, facebook, linkedin, orkut, bebo. flickr etc with huge fan following and very niche sites like asmallworld which are by invitation only but all of these exploit our carving for being in a group (not forgetting those emerging virtual world ones). So there is something to choose from whatever may be your want. But the sad fact is apart from being popular and money spinning machines, these sites are becoming more like Walmarts , Carrefours and Tesco's of the world. Pure commodity stuff.

On the otherhand there are set of emerging sites like twitter , librarything, passportstamp really stand out of the crowd for different reasons, twitter is a microblogging site and is a real cool stuff. Librarything is one the most useful site which exists for a purpose , where you can set up a catalog of your books (200 for free membership) in no time with all the information and you can put it in your blog also for a random display of your books, passportstamp is a site where you can keep a track of your travels and am sure if we dig more we could get more.

Whatever said and done, its good to understand that technology helps in getting people closer together where religions (were they supposed to ?) and other great leaders have failed. It would be interesting be see what would be next evolution of these sites, may be we all will dwell in the virtual communities and would be debating with socrates , aristotle in a greek amphitheater sipping our super chilled fosters. Lets keep our eyes open, in the mean time lets socialize more in the real world with real people, there has been no substitute to it.

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