Like thousands of Indians, I am a member of Orkut.com - a social networking site and I like the 'upcoming birthdays' so conveniently stated when you log in. Even if, as is my case, you're too lazy to read the birth dates, or even are likely to forget it after reading, Orkut highlights the friend's name and birth date in bold on the b-day. And with the convenience of just clicking and scrapping a 'happy-wappy b'day 2 u!!', I instantly do it and it's as if I have done my duty. Indeed, I feel nice and it sure seems 'a great way to maintain relationships!'. Even the birthday boy or gal feels good that they've been remembered on their birthday or appreciates the fact that I've taken pain to send a greeting.
Well, that what I felt until now. Pondering, I realized that in the first place 'real' contact with many of these friends on my Online Social Network (OSN) may not necessarily happen. Besides, many of the friends who got lost for a while and are united now due to the OSN, are people whom maybe I really wouldn't have missed even if I hadn't interacted with them ever. But then that is the good part of OSN that help you maintain AFFILIATIONS even though it may be under a cloak of 'FRIENDSHIP'. Indeed, you may not even regularly interact with the person in you social network of 100, 200 or even 1000 people, but you do wish a 'happy birthday'. Fine that is good. But that I feel is not inspired due to friendship but only due to the relative ease of communicating messages across. Otherwise would you have ever taken trouble to meet in person or even call up to wish? Not so, I feel. This is where social networks have weakened bonds.
Though, OSNs have increased the circle of affiliations and interactions, they have not really helped in building very strong bonds in the physical and emotional sense. It's kind of mechanical. Like you send greeting to all people whose birthday you see on your screen, but there really may be no feeling. It may just be an involuntary action. While business-wise, professionally, socially, this may be a good way just to remind each other that we know each other, on a physical platform, emotional bridges never get build. Even good friends and family may just be wished via a scrap. The good 'ol days of personally making a greeting or spending hours to select a gift and card in gift stores seem to be entering into oblivion. The meetings on the birthdays over dinner or a sippa hot cappuccino may be only rarely.
While many might oppose my thought strongly, and with me also accepting that I have stated my idea in a hazy manner (indicating that I am open to debate), I am pretty confident that social networks are structures for having cartloads of people as 'friends' but very few real relationships. And in view of the trend (this being one among many) to wish each other just via a 'scrap' or simply by 'writing on the wall' will 100% result in the meltdown of the sense of being physically and emotionally attached to people. Or simply, I believe that 'Online Social Networks Are Weakening Our Physical & Emotional Attachments'. Let's see, what technology develops as solution to this, if at all.