Social Networks: the Next Generation



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One of the charges most frequently made to social networks is that they are “things for losers”, that is, they are intended for people who seek in the web the illusion to have many friends, being unable to have them in the real world. Most of those who have a Facebook or Twitter account, actually has friends and acquaintances as anyone else and many of such friends are also part of their social network. Yet, it is also true that there are people who find in social networks that interaction who failed to build in reality, very often because of prejudice and discrimination.

Indeed, there are shy people who have difficulty in relating to others and they find a vent in the web that allows them to live a double life. Nevertheless, there are also people who, because they are handicapped or not meeting the criteria of “normality” that our culture often dictates, can give others a perspective of themselves that is not filtered by preconceptions and taboos.

All this, however, is going to change. Tools like Foursquare, Ban.jo, Instagram, and Pinterest, just to name a few, allow us to transfer at least part of our network of virtual relationships in the real world. In practice, due to the fact that increasingly we are connecting with the web through portable devices, such as smartphones and tablets, the gap between real and virtual world is closing more and more until we will actually arrive at that scenario of total reality that I hypothesized several years ago.

On the one hand, in fact, these tools allow us to share more and more our daily experience into the web — from the place where we currently are, to the show that we are seeing and perhaps with whom — on the other, they give us the opportunity to meet in the real world people whom we only linked through the web, in case we are by chance in the same place. In practice, they give us the possibility to meet our virtual contacts and thus the give us the opportunity to make them real friends in the strict sense of the term.

Then, that this can not occur, that you may be disappointed that things might not go as one would imagine, after all, is what always happens in real life. It does not represent a limitation of these tools, but rather it shows that to lay such a final bridge between what’s real and what’s virtual, creating a single seamless reality, let us discover the true value of social networks, that is, ourselves.

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