You often hear misguided rants’ regarding wether social networking is actually social. Of course there are two sides to every story, but essentially whenever you create a Facebook account, a Twitter page or an Instagram login you have the underlying intention of being social. Social media is a textbook example of a network society. Network society, defined by Jan Vandijk, is a form of society that organises its relationships through media networks and digital technology. These may gradually replace or assist with the age-old social networking of your plain and simple face-to-face communication.
Vandijk also coins another term, which is certainly relevant in today’s network society. The most important node in the network society is not a particular place, group or organisation… but the individual. This is known as Network Individualization. The social and cultural process of individualization is not dependent on the Internet. It appeared long before the web, especially in individualistic Western societies. Network Individualization is merely supported and fuelled by the rise of social media networks. By using these networks the individual creates a mobile lifestyle with a criss-cross of geographically dispersed relations. The consequences or benefits of these developments are still yet to be fully discovered, as we are engaging and living with them everyday. Contributing to their effects. Inevitably as we grow more dependent on these social networks the individual may begin to spend more time alone, accompanied solely by their technologies. Is this unsocial? Or are we actually participating in real (albeit intangible) social networks, creating relations with people we would never even have the chance to merely pass in the street?
“Home of the individual as the core of society and the window to his or her social environment” Social Networking Service
Vandijk, J 2012, ‘The Network Society’, SAGE Publications, London.