Internet Communications and Social Networking

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When I first started using the Internet (probably in 1995 or 1996) I used IRC to talk with and communicate with my friends.  At the time all of these friends were people I knew physically.  (I did not have an e-mail address until a few months after using IRC as I didn’t know about Hotmail, Rocketmail or Yahoo! Mail).  I met many people on IRC from across the world and for a few years would probably talk to them at least once a week online.  Although I still occasionally use IRC, there is only one person who I met using it that I still keep in touch with who I haven’t met.

I noticed that in terms of communicating with others on the Internet there has been a trend.  For me, in terms of chatting online it went IRC->ICQ->MSN.  For many of my friends they skipped IRC and ICQ and have only used MSN.  During this change involving chat client I have noticed that Social Networking has seemed to take over.

I have had accounts with Hi5, Myspace and Facebook but one day I decided to delete my accounts on all of these sites.  The main reason I did it was that I found they were taking up too much of my time (especially Facebook) and in reality I had no real reason to be on them.  In my opinion Myspace is a great site if you are promoting something.  You can find thousands of musicians and comedians who have a venue to easily self promote where they may not have the opportunity elsewhere.  I don’t have anything to promote so I thought that being on there was somewhat useless.

I have heard stories of people using Facebook and finding people they have not talked to in years (whether it be old friends or classmates from school).  This shows how large and powerful of a site it is when so many people are members.  I did meet some people on there that I hadn’t talked to in a long time and still keep in touch with them without the site through e-mail.  In this respect, I find Facebook a powerful tool.  However, for me the cons outweighed the pros. 

It almost became an addiction with checking the site every few hours to see what is new and if I had got any messages.  An e-mail would be sent to me saying that I had a new message from someone but would not say from who.  As a user this was annoying as you had to login to the site to see the message but from a marketing point of view in terms of advertising, this was a smart tactic.  Now I know some people don’t like Facebook due to the advertising on it but it is somewhat naive to think that a site this large would be able to function without advertising or a pay to use platform.  However, some of the advertising techniques they use (such as Beacon) are more controversial.  These factors did play some part in my decision to leave Facebook but the biggest factor was that it was taking up too much of my time.  Now I have more free time to aimlessly surf the internet and do other unproductive things. 

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