Social networking is the process of finding friends and of managing friendships through the internet. People who wish to meet others on line put up their most compelling and attractive presentations through their profile pages. They join groups and communicate with others by commenting on topics or by introducing topics that hope to encourage discussion.
The advantages are endless. A person can protect privacy by putting up fake addresses, birthdates, addresses and symbolic images, making the profile private and for friends only. Privacy is ensured by exercising caution when posting personal and biographical information and photos. The amount of personal data that is made available should be highly customizable, or it is best to find a site that provides better privacy features.
The disadvantages are also endless. Social networking sites can sell your personal information to anyone who wants to buy it, including spammers and on line predators. Even if the terms of understanding claim that no personal information will be sold, the site can change its policy at any time.
If blogs or other original content is published at a site, the site can take over copyright privileges in unlimited ways. Few writers, artists and musicians are aware of this and forget to read the terms of understanding in order to find out what can happen to their works.
True identity is never known unless people meet in person. While it is a myth that, without body language, a person's behavior and personality can never be understood, there is never a way to get a person's complete behavior and personality profile strictly through on line interaction.
There are too many people on line and in social networking sites. The tendency is to head for the biggest party, but the biggest party is also the most challenging place for conversation that leads to more understanding and more fruitful interactions. It is daunting and time consuming, but the best way to find people is through the forums and groups. The most dangerous people are the sparky and outgoing personas who want to become an instant best friend to total strangers.
There is too much relentless and suspicious pressure from some who wish to impose their demands for personal information on others. They make one good point, which is that it is creepy to have a person show up in a group or to start inviting people to be friends when they have an empty or hidden profile.
There is a happy medium where limited and safe information can be put up, but there can be far too much manipulation and aggression involved with getting others to give up age, location, real photos and far too much detail about themselves in public profiles.
It is sad when a group holds an in-person event or meeting and only some members can travel or pay for a trip to meet everyone. This happens in the best and most well founded groups, but creates a rift between those who have met in real life and those who have to confine their interaction to the group posts.
Social networking is a time consuming activity. A person is expected to participate by reading and to commenting on many topics and posts, rather than just skimming and lurking. It takes time to figure out ways to tweak the profile page into a masterpiece of beauty and widgetry. It takes time to find out where the great groups and people are. Once they are found, it takes time to carry on the conversations and to develop the relationships.
Even sneaking over to a site for a guilty pleasure: games, can turn into a time consuming group process. The farming, group interactive and other games can become a full time job as others want to borrow this, give that and then to talk about it all.
The budding writer who puts the best work up has to tolerate the comments from those who troll through people's blogs and who want to pick fights, carp and criticize or argue for argument's sake. Certain political operatives and volunteers live to attack anything that does not agree with their extremist views. The mentally disturbed and unstable want attention. Worse, people read but do not comment at all.
In summary, there are dangers, irritants, untrustworthy processes, such as selling registration information, and there are untrustworthy people who are active in social networking. The savvy social networker takes time to establish solid friendships and memberships in groups, has a skeptical mind, and holds back when prompted to give up too much personal information or to interact with total strangers.