I'm just finishing an interesting book by Clay Shirky called Here Comes Everybody. It's about the power of the Internet (and social networking sites) to help people form groups that are independent of institutions and organizations (a micro-example of this is the UU Growth Lab, the UU Worship Lab, and the other UU Labs that have sprung up on Facebook. Check them out, if you haven't already.) Shirky argues that the barriers to forming groups and sharing information have all been lowered dramatically in the past ten years. Sites like Flickr and Facebook make it easy to connect with others who have similar interests, whether it's around photographs, political causes, or hobbies.
I've enjoyed the book....AND it's made me reflect on how quickly things move and change in the internet world, how what's here today can be gone tomorrow. Things change, people migrate, systems collapse.
Remember back in the day when Friendster was all the rage? That was the online place to be...and then other social networking sites emerged, and somehow Friendster just wasn't cool anymore. Hard to imagine something like this happening with Facebook or Twitter, but surely it could.
And if they collapsed, what would remain? The need to connect with others. The need to be a part of something bigger than oneself. The need for meaningful friendships and relationships and stories that anchored us in something greater than our pain, our suffering, our "I, Consumer" identity. The need to be of service and to share one's gifts with the world.
The tools change but the fundamental human needs remain the same.