Social networking is not a new phenomenon. It has been studied for at least as far back as the late 1800’s. This rapidly expanding online industry is dependent on an imperative that developed in our brains long before our species took human form. The social network has been a dynamic artifact of evolution going back to our single cell origins.
At this current apex of social evolution, each of us is a channel or wave of information passing through the global mind. Our claim on this virtual reality is substantiated by photographs, videos, posts, friends networks, emails, texts, tweets, peeps, treats and how far out our contacts reach to meet. Social networking sites have already eclipsed pornography as the prime generators of traffic on the Web. The popularity of these sites is largely due to their efficiency in helping us conduct the mating ritual and they help us do so by getting our story out.
Every story combines three essential elements, plot, character and point of view. A social networking website is a point of view in search of character and plot. We hear stories all the time. Stories are so important to us that everyone wants to be the main character in one. The point of view in social networking is that a person with an interesting story makes valuable contacts. We want that story to be told to as many people as possible so that we have the best chance of finding good contacts. Stories inspire us to want to be extraordinary, to raise the level of our game, to do something that everyone recognizes as worthwhile.
A social networking site is a place where a person puts their best foot forward and shows us the character that they want to be. It is also a place where we explore the characters and stories of others. We search for people with common values and complimentary needs to enrich our story and theirs, or to reconnect with people who enriched past chapter’s of our life’s story. In cyber-culture, the mating ritual has found a place to express many latent emotions. This is good. This is healthy. We keep a wary eye out for predators, but also trust in the benefits of widening our social circle.
For the corporate interests, consumer profiles are pieced together from demographic data gathered by the way we perform the ritual. How old we are, where we live, who we live with, what we like and what we buy make up the character and plot of that story but who supplies the point of view? If every story combines three essential elements, plot, character and point of view, we must realize that the creators of these social websites are are supplying the point of view to the story that we are supplying with our character and plot .
Facebook, for example, is a blank page upon which a person’s story is written. What and how we write about ourselves, our choice and use of language, our preferences in friends, music, television, movies and popular websites make up the character and plot of that story. The viewpoint of that story is imposed by the author of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Mark is the one unifying connection that runs through the entire Facebook demographic.
We may not all be Mark’s friend, but we are all actors on his stage and legally, he has a legitimate claim to authorship of the entire digital output of his enterprise including our profiles. However it is important for us members to keep in mind an online community is made up of individuals who are connected in ways more significant than a social networking site can encompass. The real social network exists whether or not Facebook or BoobTube take part in it. The social network was not invented by any one. You are the social network. They can take away all the computers, cameras, recruiters and programmers and the social network will still be alive and well, because no one can take away your story.