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Social Hermits

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Do social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter encourage social interaction? Or do these sites encourage people to become loners? The sites - and there are dozens and dozens of them - have now caught on with working professionals. In fact, people who are over twenty-five are the largest growing demographic of users. People continue to become busier, with demands at work and at home requiring immediate attention. There simply isn't enough time in the day to meet with friends. Social networking sites allow people to stay in contact, and without scheduling face time.

But there are other reasons than just time management. Social networking sites allow users to keep in contact with "proximity friends." These are people who are or were physically but not personally close, such as ex-classmates, ex-colleagues, parents of the children your kids play with in the neighborhood, and friends of friends. We may send these people holiday and birthday cards, call with congratulations of a wedding or a newborn, or express condolences of a death in the family. Face to face contact, however, is largely nonexistent.

There is then the feeling of contact. As a result, many view the networking sites as a tool that improves communication. The contact may be superficial and achieved through emails and instant messages, yet many people now know more small details about one another. As long as the personal pages are regularly updated, it's easy to share photos or hear about kids, achievements, and other important news.

People "talk" with one another more frequently, but they rarely meet in person. Social networking sites beg the following question then: Are people becoming social hermits?


Preview some of the lesson material:

Warm Up: Do you agree or disagree? Why?

  1. My schedule is busier than ever these days.
  2. I couldn't live without email.
  3. I couldn't live without social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.
  4. Friendships are less important these days.
  5. Friendships are shallower these days.

Fragments: Remember how the fragments were used, and complete the sentence from today's article.

  1. People continue to become busier, with...
  2. Social networking sites allow users to keep...
  3. These are people who are or were physically but not personally close, such as...
  4. As a result, many view the networking sites as...
  5. Social networking sites beg the following question then...

post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!

  1. Why do you think more and more people have begun to use social networking sites? Please explain.
  2. Are people better or worse communicators because of social network sites? Why/not?
  3. What is a social hermit? What images or ideas does this phrase raise?
  4. How might social networking sites be used for business or education? What benefits might there be?
  5. If there were no sites like Facebook or MySpace, would people once again regularly meet face to face?

Google Search: Type "social networking" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.


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