I am in Greece at the moment. At a beautiful summer resort in the breathtaking Halkidiki, which is located in the south eastern part of Central Macedonia. I am here on a working holiday – not attending the Networked Learning Conference, which will take place here the next couple of days, but Thomas, my boyfriend, is attending, so I thought it would be a nice idea to come with him and get a bit of reading done.
So far, it has been really nice. The weather is great and I have been sitting by the pool reading. One of the books I am reading is “Connecting – How We Form Social Bonds and Communities in the Internet Age” by Mary Chayko. It is rapidly becoming one of my favourite books. It deals with how people form different sociomental bonds with others with whom they seldom communicate face to face, who they don’t even know or have never met IRL.
The book was published in 2002 – before online social networking was really an issue, and nowhere in the book the them ‘social network site’ is mentioned, but I feel like I am reading about online social networking and how people form and maintain online connections on e.g. Facebook – and why it is important to have connections to both particular and typified others (e.g. a chat friend, a faraway relative, a deceased family member, a celebrity or even a fictional character) and why these connections are just as important to us as our daily face to face interactions.
I think that I will use the book and some of its concepts in my dissertation when explaining and defining online social networking. Even though it doesn’t deal with social network sites, Chayko acknowledges the fact that she could be writing about upcoming technologies that might change how we connect and form social bonds in the age of the Internet: “It is a safe bet that technologies that are being developed, refined, and disseminated as this is written will lead to currently unimaginable changes in our society, in the nature of connectedness and in thinking itself” (p. 15). Did someone mention Facebook, Bebo, Orkut…?