Technology has become a major part of society, permeating almost every facet of our lives. Its use has become overwhelmingly popular in the social networking world. With the innovation of such social networking sites as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Hi 5, individuals are now able to meet and reconnect with each other with the ease of just a few key strokes. According to Boulton (2011) social networking sites account for 12% of all time spent on the internet. Facebook.com (2011) reports, there are more than 500 million people spending over 700 billion minutes per month collectively posting pictures, comments, news stories, web links, blogs and more. With so much time spent on social networking sites it has sparked debates over whether people are really able to make connections in the online world. When considering online social networking there are several types of connections that can be made, including personal and professional. This paper will focus on personal connections that have been previously established and those newly established. It will briefly examine reasoning why the statement, “with the advent and increasing popularity of social networking, individuals are connected to everyone but connecting to no one” is not completely accurate.
To establish an underpinning for this perspective, connection or connecting in social networking terms, is defined as a recurring exchange between two or more people which allows for a sense of belonging or being a part of a whole. Studies indicate that individuals usually join social networking sites as a means of reconnecting previously established offline relationships, maintaining occurring offline relationships, or starting new relationships (Caplan, 2003; Lampe, Ellison, & Steinfield, 2006). This technology has made it easier to contact potential acquaintances, friends, and family; sharing pictures of vacations, information on upcoming events, or details about the work day. Subrahmanyan, Reich, Waechter, & Espinoza (2008) report a connectedness between users’ online and offline worlds. This idea is further supported by Lampe et al. (2006) indicating that the majority of individuals use social networking sites as a “tool for maintaining previous relationships” (p. 170). This infers that individuals are connecting on these sites, but the bonds are also supported by more traditional means of socializing.
The other side of the coin deals with establishing new relationships. Although the majority of users supplement their previously established offline relationships with online communication, there are those who choose to meet new people online as well. These connections often begin online, but eventually lead to some type of face-to-face contact
(Lampe et al., 2006). Based on this information, it appears that the breakdown in connecting occurs when these connections are not supplemented by face-to-face interaction. Without this personal interface the online bond may not be as...