View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Sunday 2 August

Overcast day, with a bit of drizzle and a bit of sunshine here and there.

Archbishop Vincent Nicols, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England, has sounded a warning bell against the (over)use of social networking sites on the Internet, particularly by young people. He claims that sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter give people a false sense of belonging to a group, a group that can sometimes turn out to be as ephemeral as the air itself. And when it all collapses, suicide is only just around the corner.

I know people who are strongly opposed to social networking sites for that reason, claiming that they prey on the vulnerable and leading to disaster should a meeting face-to-face ever ensue. All the people that I correspond with through the internet, with only a few exceptions, I have never met in person. There is exactly one person that I met as a direct result of a meeting on-line. I am no longer in touch (haven't been for 4-5 years), but will say that my impression face-to-face was little different from what I had been led to believe on AOL (as was). Although you miss the non-verbal communication (which makes up 70% of any face-to-face communication), I was surprised at the outcome. We were both aware of mutual vulnerability, and both took that into account. We parted as friends; circumstances led to a drifting apart.

There are a few people that I have "met" through AOL Journals, Facebook and Twitter I would like to meet in person. As in real life, you get close friends, "ordinary" friends and acquaintances on-line. I am wary of making the transition.