Monday, December 24, 2007

Social "Security" Network

Just 6 more days and it will be 2008! Another year went by in a blaze of glory and another digit to be added to all forms asking for your age. Since everyone will sit back and take stock of the year, how can this blog not do so? Of all the popular trends for the year, the madness surrounding 'Social Networking Websites' takes the cake for me.

I have been on such sites for more than 3 years now and it still continues to intrigue me on how the madness of scrapping, tagging, Fun Walling, Hotness Quizzing (and so on..) doesn't seem to be giving up. And it just gets worse. You open your inbox and there are like 100 mails asking you to join "Save the Yeti Andolan" network, make 'friendships' with Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Monica Belluci (going by their profile pictures) and so on. Just last week I was reading the editorial of a very popular youth magazine which starts with how studies have shown that social networking sites decrease productivity at workplaces and educational institutes. It then goes on to advertise its own recently launched platform for social networks! Talk about misplaced messages.

This cultural phenomenon has grown so big that unless you are on the popular sites, you don't really have a life. Now there is this mad rush to add more friends, join networks, turn friends/contacts into werewolves and vampires and take 'likeness' quizzes. Recently these sites have also featured in criminal investigations, providing 'clues' and 'insights' into the victims and perpetrators alike. Now the big question is what makes us network socially, via websites or otherwise?

Last week I met up with a senior from college who is a hot shot consultant now and another gentleman who is the CEO of a big internet portal and this was the perfect place to throw up this question. The idea was to strip down the idea of 'networking' to its basics and what makes it tick.

Humans have always been social animals and we have had social networks since the time one smart ancestor realized that it is much more easy and convenient to hunt, gather and stay safe with a group than solo. And very soon, these networks started signifying power and status within the group. It is therefore not surprising that throughout our human history the leaders, kings, conquerors or simply the ones with the most number of mates, were people who were able to use these networks to their benefit. Times have changed, but the significance of social networking hasn't, although the nature of it has evolved. Now you do business networking or join networks online. But the intention remains the same. Survival!

Social networking and self-survival?? Did you miss something? No! you didn't. Social Networking has always been for survival and it will continue to be so. Being at the top of the social hierarchy definitely increases your chances of surviving a calamity. Is it a wonder why kings and political leaders get so much protection while commoners like you and me pay taxes to maintain that status quo? The more popular or revered you are in your social network, it will ensure that people will protect you in case of any danger or calamity. And this survival instinct is inside each one of us and this drives us to 'add' more friends to our list and be part of a large network of people. This is the logic behind the popular saying 'Safety in numbers'.

How about the friend'ship' makers you ask? Well, it is again observed that people with access to a larger network will have a much better chance of finding more mates and thus ensure that his/her kind lives on. This is the eternal hope that drives these 'ship' makers

Studies have shown that primates have an average number of social contacts for whom they 'feel' attached. Like monkeys will be very tuned in to the needs and feelings of the 30 closest members around them. For humans, the number is around 300, with the individual being at the center and relatives and friends forming the surrounding groups. Casual acquaintances form the periphery. The closer the person is to you, the more intense is the feeling. This is the reason why you are devastated by the demise of a parent or a close friend. After that the intensity decreases. You might not be so much saddened by the death a person who lived in the same lane as you and lesser for a person who lived in the same city and very less or no change in feelings when you hear the demise of a person who lived 1000 miles away from you. (Thanks to Angelo for this absolutely useless piece of information)

Still find it hard to digest the entire concept? Think of a person who decides to move away from social network and live as a loner. Very soon he will develop emotional problems and there will no guarantee that he will be taken care of or provided for. And in illness, he is on his own and the only time he might be noticed is when the rotten stink coming from his apartment becomes too much for his neighbors to handle.

And lastly, all that business networking is just for one simple reason, to survive in the corporate jungle.

OK, time to go now. Have to scrap back my friends and take some iLike quizzes. Caio..

PS: A very merry Christmas to our dear Dimpy who we miss very much :-)


dimpy said...

thanks su... totally miss u guys too!!

dimpy said...

and very intense write up!... am glad u stopped ur product placement blogging. dont go there if u can help it.

Jugal said...

Big Brother
Watching YOU!

Divya said...

After reading the factual information, I am definitely educated. I guess I made a right decision to open an account in one of the most popular social networking web sites. :)

ursjina said...

Thats very very interesting..worth being pursued for a phd

Jugal said...

LONG TIME NO POST! Your blog deserves to be deleted! I am starting a online signature campaign to delete your blog! Muwahahaha!

Jaycii said...

suku you are so full of it.


Nomi said...

Article tu porhi beeratei bhaal lagil...