Lifestyle

Social networking pays off with my kindergarten connection | Rudi Alcott

The invention of social networking is a game changer.

There, I said it. And I am an old guy. At 41, I am considered on the outside of the generation that is supposed to use social networking as an integral part of their lives. Times have changed.

When I was a youngster way back in the early 1980s, as my boys constantly remind me, my definition of social networking was bloodying someone else’s knuckles with my face. Sadly, I became pretty adept at this. Today, Boomers and, yes, me as a (de)Generation Y’er, invade their space through social networking sites like MySpace, Twitter and Facebook. Recently, I saw some stats on Wikipedia on social networking, and if this heavily percentage and number laden entry is correct, social networking is of paramount importance to us as a society and to each of us individually.

I was at a luncheon a few days ago and while networking the old-fashioned way (by actually talking to someone), a lawyer sitting at the same table deadpanned that 47 percent of all statistics are made up. I lobbed back that 99 percent of all lawyers give the rest of them a bad name. While my sardonic humor was apparently lost on him, the fact is that the percentages of numbers can and are often skewed to make one’s point equally or more impressively weighted. Don’t believe me? Ask a politician. Where else can spending $829 billion on health care actually save $81 billion? With that in mind, here are some of the highlights of social networking culled through Wikipedia — another socially produced site:

• Social sites have over taken porn sites as the most visited. This seems a bit skewed to me, as who is going to cop to visiting a porn site? I never have.

• One in eight married couples met through a social networking site. I’m not sure if this means they met other married couples, or met and then got married through a social site. Seems like there are a couple of conjunctions possibly missing here. I would think you might want to clarify this or the next stop could be sociallydivorced.com.

• Years it took to reach 50 million users: Radio, 38. TV, 13. Internet, 4. iPod, 3. Facebook, 100 million users in nine months.

• If Facebook were a country, it would be the fourth-largest behind only China, India and the U.S.

• Fastest growing segment on Facebook is the 55-65-year-old female.

So, what does this mean? I’ll open up myself as a very real interpretation. Facebook claims that I have 80 friends. While that may not sound like a lot compared to Ashton Kutcher, it is as many as I can handle complaining about me at once. I’ve had to cap it there, though. A couple of these friends are still pending and have been for a few months. That’s probably not good.

However, this is where it gets interesting. A few of these friends are F-Dub socialites, many are from my Indiana high school days, some are from all over Western Washington, one is my wife (presumably to keep me honest), and a good portion are from my grade school days in Colorado. Grade school. These are folks that I haven’t seen in 30-plus years. Yet they are all there, and we converse like it was yesterday.

Think about that. Ten years ago, had you friended your kindergarten girlfriend as I have on Facebook, and you are male, you would have gotten 10 to 20 years. Possibly more. Further to this, a few months ago, I sent her son some electronic games that my kids had spares of. Her son was having a tough time getting them to work, so I called her to work out the issues. When she answered, an oddity struck me that had it occurred at any other point in my life, I would have thought was completely surreal. I had no idea who it was I was talking to, as I had never heard her voice as an adult. Yet because of our social networking connection, there were no pregnant pauses or any creepiness about it. At least not from my end. Perhaps she blocked my number. I’ll have to Facebook chat her and ask.

So where does it all go and where does it all end? I have no idea, but it does aid in satisfying our socialistic appetite as humans. Before, we got together during business hours and occasionally at after-hour events over a drink or two in what seems like, by today’s standards, a very structured environment. Now, can’t sleep? No problem. Start up your electronic vehicle of choice and one of your friends in a different time zone, or with a like malady, is undoubtedly having the same issue. Strike up a conversation, and before you know it, your friend list has grown exponentially and your available free time has shrunk inversely proportionally.

Mirror publisher Rudi Alcott: ralcott@federalwaymirror.com

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