Internet increasing or decreasing social capital?
In today’s society many people are being disconnected from the real world and converting to a new way of interaction. This interaction involves the use of technology. Today the most common use of this technological connection is through a website by the name of Facebook. Facebook is a place to post photos, videos, and any sort of text you are in the mood for. Statistics show that you will only have around 396 friends in your lifetime. But on my sisters face book account she has double if not triple that amount. Are these people her real friends? Or, are they just people involved in her social network of friends? Well whether you know the friends on your social networking sight in real life or not, just by glancing at their page for 5 minutes or so you can recognize them, find out what they like, and be able to recognize them in real life by checking out their photos. I personally think sites like this are greatly increasing social capital. Just by talking to someone online for a couple of minutes that you don’t know well, you can get to know them pretty well and if you saw them in real life it wouldn’t be hard for us to walk up and say hi. In 2001 Facebook nearly reached 1 million users, as of today there is over 500 million users and the numbers are still multiplying.
This social Network is growing real life interactions are decreasing. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and with it social capital can increase. But there are problems associated with the use of this technology. People’s social skills can definitely decrease. Talking online is a phenomenon and sometimes people can gain a “false personality” by constantly talking online and not interacting in the real world. Here is an interesting graph that shows elderly people becoming involved in the technological world and showing how they are starting to use the Internet as a social network increaser.
Right off the bat you can see that teens have many more friends than those older. How is this? Wouldn’t an adult who has been around much longer than them have many more friends. This makes it apparent that today in society the ways social capital is increasing is evolving. Teens have created a new way of making social capital without even knowing it. Although there are some downsides to this new Internet phenomenon for the purpose of increasing social capital I think it can be a big aid.