Not another networking site…


No, not those sweet, silver-haired old ladies we like to call Granny.

NANS. Short for, “Not Another Networking Site!”

Help. My life has become a constant battle with keeping myself* up to date: I am already at online interactivity overload. Just when I think my poor little fingers have got up to speed with typing away at my MySpace, bebo, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts – then along pops another social networking site into my inbox. Ping! Your new account is ready to use! Sign up, sign on, get blogging, get tweeting. Help!

Just the other day, claims in the news were made that social networking may be detrimental to our mental health. Apparently evidence suggests that the more time we spend on such sites, and the less time we spend interacting ‘face to face’, the more isolated we become and the more harm we are doing to our biological systems.

This may be true. I know I only converse face-to-face with about three or four ‘real’ people these days. All the rest of my contacts have been relegated to ‘online chat’, followed up by a biannual ‘real life’ visit if they’re lucky.

I wouldn’t mind all these so-called ‘networking’ sites if I thought the benefits:time ratio were a bit higher. But it isn’t. I can spend several hours a week online-networking and come away at the end of it thinking it might have been simpler if I’d just phoned a friend and gone out to grab a coffee for 30 minutes. My mum has the right idea.

And then all the profiles need so much updating! At the last count I had at least nine accounts; each with statuses to update, moods to select, contact details to provide, interests to specify, friends to invite, etc, etc, etc… These sites don’t save us time – they ROB us of all our free time.

I work from home, which means that if my computer is on from say, 8 in the morning to, say, 9 at night, then that’s a potential thirteen whole hours to be dabbling in and out of social networking sites. A peek here, a browse there, who’s doing what, who’s said what to whom, what wit can I post online now? And as I don’t have one of those website blocking filters like some people do in the office, there’s just no stopping me.

And yet, if it is so time-consuming and tedious, why are we all so into it? Simple. Firstly, because we’re addicted. We’re addicted to staying in the loop, and the internet provides the possibility to embark on one enormous, effortless journey through a virtual circular street with infinite virtual doors to knock on. Clever advertising makes us think we need it. And secondly, because we are ultimately a lazy people. Given the choice between going into town to meet someone in a bar or café, and just sitting in front of the computer screen, most of us would rather do the latter.

So this latest social networking site I’ve been invited to join will provide me with another opportunity to befriend people I don’t actually know, to post all sorts of facts and miscellany about myself into the infinity of the web, and to remember another goddamn password. Great.

Will this be the last I hear of the NANS? No.

What do I think will happen next?
Facebook, I suspect, is just the tip of the iceberg. From where I’m standing these interactive tools look set to multiply, rendering each of us ‘over-networked’ (i.e. the ultimate endgame of all social networking sites is surely to have each and every one of us on the planet ‘linked’ to the next person: infinite linkages. That seems to be the way it’s going anyway. And how workable will that be?)

Will what I have to say have any real bearing on people using Facebook et al?

Because we’re scared of being left out.

*I am no longer myself. I am My Profile. Is it just me or is there something quite masochistic in referring to oneself in criminal-records-speak?


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