We are in the States this week. As time goes by the culture shock of coming back here gets worse, not with my family, but with everything else: the world outside my parents’ front door. Even though I pretty much know what to expect, and we spent practically our entire summer here this year, America feels a little weird and somewhat foreign.
This time around I have been thinking a lot about the way technology is used, and my sister has got me thinking about how pervasive social networking is in the US, whereas in Italy it seems to be not much farther than its embryonic stage. Or maybe I live under a rock. I never got involved in the social networking, probably because I had my blog, and I tend to be out of the loop on anything very technological anyway, but lately, and especially since we’ve been here, even I have been picking up on the way people seem to rely on it increasingly to meet their social needs, and it seems kind of sad to me.
This is not to say that the internet is bad or social networking is inherently wrong – I have met people online and I do think the internet can provide opportunites for creating wonderful communities, but there is something to be said for genuine, real life social interaction.
I am interested to know what you think about all this. Is social networking an invaluable tool? A force for evil? Does it cheapen the concept of friendship? Does it encourage us to depict ourselves as better and not necessarily genuine versions of the people we really are? Or would we do this anyway in real life? Does it open the world to us and enable us to reach out to a greater diversity of social contacts or does it encourage us to interact almost exclusively with people who share our outlook and beliefs? In searching to “connect” and make our lives feel important, are we cutting ourselves off from the people in our actual lives and keeping ourselves from really living?
I don’t know. But I wonder.