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(Editor’s Note: Whether it’s projecting friendliness and showing genuine interest in others, or gracefully receiving criticisms from a friend, all of us seek to nurture social relationships.
A new report by the Pew Research Center – on the future of social relations – seeks to capture people’s expectations on the role of the Internet in this process.
Whether it’s through email, texting, instant messaging or social platforms like Facebook, people are rapidly expanding their network of connections.
And while few of us can resist the urge to add or accept requests for new “friends” in our online life, the value of these relationships often has positive and negative implications.
Of 895 respondents to an online survey fielded by Pew and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, 85% viewed the Internet as having a positive force, while about 14% said social connectivity is being used in harmful ways.
Among the benefits cited by respondents in the study were the capabilities for communication – for creating, cultivating, and continuing social relationships.
“The social nature of the Net allows us to be better informed about friends, and family than ever before,” said Michael Burns, co-founder and principal, i5 web works. “We will all be richer from it.”
The pitfalls included time spent online robbing time from important face-to-face relationships, the fostering of shallow relationships, the exposing of one’s private information, and limiting exposure to new ideas.
“Deep relationships, the kind that stand the test of time and adversity, will become increasingly difficult to form and maintain,” said Daniel Weiss, senior analyst for media and sexuality at Focus on the Family Action. “We will be more connected to the world than ever before, but in far less meaningful ways.”
Do you perceive your online connections as true “friendships”, people with whom you can trust and share personal aspects of your life, or is your network of online neighbors more accurately described as “acquaintances?”
Do you have friends with faces?
Read a personal experience from Lori, Big 3 News’ most recent contributor, and feel free to share your thoughts by commenting below.
Anywhere we travel on the Internet today – social sites like Facebook, Twitter or BlogTV — we meet great people and not–so-great people.
We sometimes end up knowing them for a long time; we learn their ways, their routines, and sometimes their personal lives.
To some, we become great friends and we learn to trust them.
With others, we are unsure about them. We try to be friends, or we let them pass us by.
About two-and-a-half years ago I met someone on the social broadcasting website BlogTV, a place where young and old alike share webcams and chat rooms to “showcase their talent,” or just hang out and get to know each other.
For many months I watched this person’s shows – I’ll call him “Bob” to protect his privacy – and chatted with him and thought I was getting to know him.
Although I knew some things about Bob were odd, and didn’t always make sense (at times his actions were just plain strange and downright rude), I still found some sort of kindness in this person. Maybe, I thought, this person was troubled, lonely or just bored.
Bob proposed a business deal to me and five other people, and after we all agreed, we began working on it right away. I felt I was smart enough to know if I was being taken advantage of, but honestly, there was no way to know in the beginning.
Soon, I began to catch on and eventually called his bluff. However, the damage was done. Promises were broken and the hearts of five people were broken in the process.
This man was a liar, I thought, a completely crazy-minded person who lived in his own fantasy world of lies and did not care who it hurt. He damaged a few people, and after talking with others I was certain he had done it to more than us.
I learned you cannot trust everyone online, and the experience has made me realize more of what to look for in people and what to avoid.
Some of us make wonderful friends on the Internet; some make a few enemies along the way. Many times I have watched groups of Internet users join together to support a good cause, raise money, and lend moral support to others.
Isn’t that the way it should be?
Personally, I have made many friends along my journey of exploring the Internet. Some are gone now, some I do not speak with much anymore, and some have hurt me. One true friend remains – the realization of which took place over time.
You, me, the world – we are friends with faces on the Internet. Sometimes we think people can’t see us for who we are. This is not true. The Internet is the exact place to REALLY pay attention!
It’s a chance we don’t get often, to watch for things in people we don’t normally see, what they think about, what their dreams are, and what we can learn from them.
We make friends on the Internet and every single one of them has a face, has a heart, has feelings, has a life, and has a family! We are friends with faces.
So the next time you log onto your favorite social website or broadcasting platform, take a good look at their face – see what they think about and what they feel underneath all that skin!
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Rusty Ray started an online freelance news project with live coverage of the 2008 Democratic & Republican Presidential primaries. On May 4, 2009, Rusty Ray founded Big 3 News. Over the past decade, Rusty Ray has participated in or provided news coverage of numerous political events, and has interviewed & featured an impressive roster of people, groups and causes. Rusty Ray