Posted by: secretperson | July 4, 2008

Social Networking Sites bad for Social Networking?

Kids born since 1990, who never knew a world without the internet may have difficulty forming relationships, according to psychiatrists.

I have to say, statements like “I have 300 friends” sound a bit odd to me, I barely know 300 people. Facebook, might be useful for arranging meeting up with people you really know, but the whole on-line thing does seem a bit wierd to me, although I do join in.

What does it say about bloggers though?

I have thought that one problem with the internet is that rather than being exposed to many different views, as you might expect, instead it is easy to find people who already agree with you. This ‘confirmation bias’ acts to reinforce your own views, rather than having to adapt and get on with others. The potential is there to both increase or rdeuce your horizons. I try to read different view points (Guardian, left wing blogs) and think I am intelligent enough to understand what I read, but I can see how you could find support and ‘evidence’ for any view you might have, however strange and unlikely.

I am mixing up politics and individual relationships a bit, but I think the two can suffer similar effects. The report says the internet reduces the importance of race, gender and wealth, and it might well do. On the other hand if you search out people with similar interests already, it can reduce the variety of experience you have. (I refuse to use the word diversity in this case, as it has been hijacked for race related issues).

Political opinions are no different to teen fashions in this sense. If you end up discussing, for example, civil liberties with like minded libertarians, you are likely only to reinforce any mistakes you made or prejudices you had to start with.

That is why it is important we all keep open minds, and engage with blogs and opinion columnists of different views than our own. And why politics should be in the real world too. Just as your number of faceboog friends doesn’t reflect your true popularity, neither does the number of blog hits reflect the popularity of your opinions.

And while appreciating the irony of blogging about this, I think my point is that the internet is not so great, and I think I will stop now and get in to the real world of, umm, video conferencing at work. Ok not so great, but it’s Friday so at least I have the pub to look forward to.



  1. […] linked to a bunch of articles that it thought were similar! What a nifty feature, and since they confirm my point of view, I think that I should just post-em! Confirmation Bias, baby! Possibly related posts: […]

  2. […] years ago and I can’t seem to search-up (google or bing -up) the right results. I did find a nice blog entry and Wikipedia has a good definition for Confirmation Bias. […]

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