Networking Sites - Collecting Friends or Integral Development?
20 September 2007
Facebook, Friendster, MySpace, Hyves, even Zaadz - set up as
the platforms for the current informational phase of social
development, some of them are now no more than places where people
strive to collect as many "friends" as possible. The more people you
are linked to, the more popular/important/great you are, seems to be
the rule. The more "friends" you have on these sites, the more
exposure your profile with more or less interesting information or
blog with more or less relevant views will get.
So, great, you have your network. However, how many of your "friends"
do you actually know? How many of them did you ever get any form of
contact with beyond the first invitation to link up profiles? What
do you actually do with this network of yours?
What many of these sites end up doing is merely satisfying people's
needs for appreciation or for belonging. Appreciation meaning an
essentially egocentric need to be seen, recognized, loved. To be
caressed. Which is OK, by the way, but there are more effective ways
of satisfying that need than being part of a virtual community.
Belonging is a need arising in higher stages of development, where
the feeling arises that you want to be part of a group of
similarly-minded people. That is a basic human need as well, but is
that need really satisfied by building a virtual network of people
you really don't know?
What I am wondering about is what we, the community on sites like
Zaadz, want to do with our networks. Building a network is fine -
it's one step towards greater social development. But once you have
it, what do you do with it? How do you take networking websites
beyond the (at most) pluralistic level and make Integral use of it?
A few suggestions:
* Listen and Talk! This seems obvious, but in order to build a
higher level of togetherness, we first need to communicate.
Interaction on these sites is often limited to comments to blog
postings that rarely exceed the level of "I agree" or "kudos". Real
interaction is very much missing but also very much needed to form a
* Share! Building a community means foremost that we communicate
with each other and share our views with each other. Blogging is
often just a one-way street where someone post something to the
world and starts counting views of it. Sharing means in the first
place posting relevant content (e.g. MsCapriKell's postings of her
Integral Spiritual Practice:
MsCapriKell's Blog) and as such inspiring other people. And the
next step is to listen to other people's views of the subject and
interacting with them. Then blogging works for the benefit of all
* Organize! Once you get interaction going through sharing, organize
your network. Do something useful with it. For instance, a while ago,
a fund-raising effort was started to enable one of the Zaadz members
in Uganda (Saidi - Saidi's Blog)
to start up his own Internet Cafe. It is these kinds of efforts that
are inspiring and bring the world a bit further towards being a
Let's all get together to further develop the world. There must be
more possibilities in these websites than merely collecting contacts
and one-way blog postings. Zaadz is the foremost platform to start