Every day, millions--if not billions--of people around the world use social networking sites to connect with "friends" they've never met and business contacts they've never seen. But many people question the effects of Internet social networking on our lives and wonder what, if any, are the positive effects of this new technology.
We Never Need to Lose Touch Again
The advent of social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace (among others) has made it far easier for us to stay in touch with the people we met in kindergarden and to stay up to date on the events happening in the lives of people you would have lost touch with otherwise. According to an article on HealthGuidance.org, “in the case of sites such as Facebook and others then, you’re actually more in contact with people than you would be otherwise and in fact need never lose contact with anyone ever again.”
A Leg Up for the Socially Handicapped
Another positive effect of social networking on the Internet is that it happens through a computer screen--a shield allowing shy people to express themselves without fear of rejection and for people with low self-esteem or poor body images to meet others and form relationships without surface impressions getting in the way. The article “Why the Positive Effects of Internet Use Outweigh the Bad” on HealthGuidance.org says "Taking away the ‘physical’ element to begin with may even make the relationship less shallow."
In addition to people who meet and begin dating each other online, Internet social networking allows people in relationships to stay in touch when separated by long distances or to have long, romantic conversations through instant messaging clients, Internet voice chat or web cams without racking up prohibitively expensive phone bills.
Another positive effect of social networking on the Internet is made evident in communities of people who exist offline. The article “Online interactions have positive effects for real-life communities” on the University of Illinois News Bureau website suggests that Internet social networking, online communication and user-driven content on the Internet creates “ties that bind for offline communities.”
New Avenues for News
The sprout-like growth of Internet social networking has also created new sources of information for people who are not controlled by the mass media or the world's leaders. Twitter accounts can deliver the scoop about a political figure who made an incendiary statement that they managed to keep off the official record. Internet social networking users provide personal product reviews, how-to guides and, according to an article on the University of Illinois News Bureau website, “citizen journalism,” such as “on the ground” updates about events happening in disaster areas.