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Has social networking brought people closer?

(People's Daily Online)

16:46, June 06, 2012

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

Communication is a human instinct, and takes different forms at different times. In ancient times, people used fishes or wild geese to send letters. In modern times, people communicate by letter or telephone. In the Internet era, people keep refreshing web pages, and eagerly wait for replies.

The Internet provides people with multiple new means of communication, and greatly satisfies their desire to communicate. The emergence of social networking services has further enhanced the functions of the Internet, and enabled people to build a large self-centered social network. With tens of thousands of "friends"and "followers,"people think they can get rid of loneliness and huddle together for warmth.

Facebook, the world's biggest social networking site, has nearly 900 million users worldwide. Renren.com, China's largest social networking site, expects a user base of more than 200 million people by the end of the year. In addition, there were about 250 million micro-bloggers in China at the end of last year. Social networking services are becoming increasingly popular worldwide.

According to the theory of "six degrees of separation,"it takes six intermediaries or fewer to reach a target stranger. Users of social networking services may find a friend they have not seen in years, or be "followed"by a pop star they like. If they desire, they can even "make friends"with the president of a country. As a tool of communication and a carrier of human emotions, social networking services make many people feel comfortably warm.

However, they sometimes also make people feel freezing cold。

Earlier in March, a Chinese micro-blogger under the screen name "Zoufan"killed herself after posting her last message. A few days later, it was found that her real name was Ma Jia. She was a depressed college student in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, and was just a few months away from graduation. By reading her micro-blogs, people found that she had been "crying for help"online, but no one had heard her.

We cannot blame the Internet for the tragic end to a young life. However, two questions arise from this tragedy. Is the Internet really helping us get closer to each other? Are we expecting too much from the Internet?

We may have many friends online, but have only met a few of them in person. We may have joined many online communities, but are just interested in a few of them. We "meet"our friends online every day, but talk with just a few of them. Social networking services bring us together, but do not necessary ensure close friendship. The services appeal to our socializing instincts, but may ruin our ability to communicate.

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Read the Chinese version: 社交网络让我们更近了吗
Source: People's Daily, author: Yu Yang

Email|Print|Comments(Editor:梁军、马茜)

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  1. Name

wende at 2012-06-0671.255.85.*
Internet is cold and has no feeling. It may sound nice but a face-to-face contact is best because one can see the gestures and the look and the emotion which is not available on line. People can make a thousand changes on line before they send the email. The sender's real intention is not seen.
  

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