A recent Harris Poll just came out, stating that Americans feel more connect these days but spend less time meeting in person. The survey states this is the result of rapid emergence of ‘Social Networks.’ This info shouldn’t surprise most people. It would be nice if the Harris Poll dug a little deeper about different subject matters or tasks or issues are discussed in person vs. online. (Or if they have, let me know where I can find this information at a reasonable price: )
I think Social Networks are creating more intellectual ghettos, places where people can go with both like-minded folks and strangers (who they serendipitously encounter) and share ideas. More and more movements will be jump-started and grown online.
I think the key to social networks is that it enables people to speak up more, to share their opinions more and to engage in both polite and impolite debate. They can share their real identities on sites such as Facebook or they can go incognito on such sites as the Experience Project .
90% of people in the States are socially connected online, yet their ‘personal’ connectedness online and offline are about the same at 50% or so. The real growth opportunity might be with business — and how social networks will connect individuals not only with fellow employees, but also other members of the companies ecosystem, such as business partners, educators (who teach topics similar to business), etc. For Adobe (a company I have worked with), they use social networks to connect more with creative designers and developers. Photographers and artists. Obviously, LinkedIn is one of the first business platforms that comes to mind, but that site has done little to really connect all the various players within a company’s or industry’s ecosystem.
MeetUp.com does a good job in bringing like minded people together offline.
I don’t think Social Media is necessary fracturing society, but rather it is just connecting people more — and getting individuals who would normally bite their tongue, to express themselves. Either using their real name or a fictitious one. As we all know, there is a real splintering of society going on. Unlike my fellow baby boomers (I think I am a boomer), I don’t get worried that people are meeting less offline (and the data here is debatable). It’s just how it is. A new generation in an evolving society.