Since 2000, I’ve had the ability to meet my potential spouse without leaving the couch. Since 2003, if I think I look particularly hot, I can take a picture in my bathroom with the towel rack in plain sight and post it online. Since 2004, I’ve been able to rekindle elementary school friendships and discover my best friend’s roommate during sophomore year dated the older brother of a girl I sat next to on the bus in sixth grade.
And since 2006, I can take my virtual friends along during my night out with a play-by-play that usually goes something like this:
“This is what I’m doing now.”
“This is what I’m doing five minutes later.”
And, “Nothing has changed – this is still what I’m doing.”
The past decade birthed a few of the most popular social networking sites today: eHarmony, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. They allow us to portray an identity we choose and keep up with news and gossip without having to read a newspaper, watch the news or ask around. Who needs any of that when we receive Tweets summarizing a 350-word news story in 140 characters or less?
Now, suppose these four networking tools are destroyed in the coming decade. People are forced to date like they did in the ’90s. They will only wonder what happened to their best friend in high school. And they’d have to find another way to feed their desire to receive news right this second. We’ve become quite addicted to instant answers with an iPhone in hand. We’re pros at editing a profile picture and compiling quirky self-defining quotes.
But as social networking continues to develop, we must remember how we used to survive. We must remember that before the Internet, people managed to fall in love. People managed to maintain relationships and be aware of the world around them. People managed to get by.
Keep in the mind the danger of letting our personability lag behind our ability to flirt via instant messenger because eHarmony will not last forever, and I might outlive Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Networking does indeed open doors for intellectual, social and personal development, but in the coming years, don’t forget how we managed all of that 10 years ago.