Im a social person. For as long as I can remember Ive always had lots of friends. Back in college I had multiple groups of friends that I had met in pursuit of different jobs, interests and hobbies and I was often the glue that would tie people in these groups together. In a way, you could say that I was an early form of a social network.
And when it comes to how I interact with my friends, co-workers, business contacts and brief acquaintances, I have a very specific preference and process for handling these diverse groups. Its the way that I like to be social, which is probably different in many ways from the way that you like to be social.
But thats the problem with the big social networking sites that are out there on the Internet today. For the most part they are a one-size-fits-all tool and if your preferences for social networking are different from theirs, well, thats too bad.
At the beginning of the social networking craze this wasnt too big of a deal. If you were an early user of Facebook or MySpace, the way the sites dumped all of your different types of friends together wasnt too big of a problem.
But now networks like Facebook are being used much more often for business purposes, and that is where the problems start. Now all of us who use these networks are feeling more and more pressure to combine both our personal friends with our business contacts and for many of us this isnt an ideal situation. To be honest, I probably wouldnt invite all of my friends to hang out with my work and business contacts in a real world social setting, and Id rather not do it in a virtual one either.
Click here to read the entire column Controlling Social Networks