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Social Conversations in the Online World

Aug 18, 2007
Social conversations are very popular in the realm of electronic communication. In fact, it might be said that the ability to conduct social conversations is the most powerful function of electronic communication. In the online world of the Internet, social conversations can be conducted either in online communities or through instant messaging systems.

The most common online communities are Ryze, Friendster, Myspace, FaceBook, and Downelink. These online communities allow you to network with different types of people. Whether you are a businessman who would like to make more business contacts, or an individual who wants to join the swinging singles dating world, there is an online community for you to join.

Opening an account in such an online community gives you access to your own online site where you might be permitted to post photos, host a blog of your own, and contact other people in the same network through emails or posts that they leave in your site.

Instant messaging systems online may allow you to send texts to other cellphone numbers, send messages in chatrooms, share files peer-to-peer, and even pit yourself against another member of the system in an online game.

Using webcams and audio systems permit you to expand the range of your online social conversation to real time - meaning, you can then instantly see and talk to the person you have contacted, and vice versa. Instant messaging is now very popular, particularly among the youth, who use it for socializing with their peers.

The advantages of online communities are:

1) They permit members to constantly keep in touch with one another - even if they live in opposite parts of the world.

2) They allow short messages to be sent, as opposed to a telephone call that requires long conversations. Meaning, if you do not want to talk for a long time, you can simply send a short message to the recipient.

3) Members of an online community generally share common interests that they want to talk about.

4) The business potential of an online community is as vast as the scope of the Internet. If you want to conduct e-business, joining an online community is a good idea.

The pros of using instant messaging are:

1. Like online communities, they also permit members to keep in touch regardless of their geographical location.

2. You can rely on screen names to keep your identity private.

3. You can meet new people to add to your list of friends.

But, like any form of communication, electronic communication also has its disadvantages:

1. The people who are part of online communities and engage in instant messaging may not have strong ties to their community, thus fostering feelings of social alienation and loneliness.

2. The habit of online communicators to keep their identities secret may allow them to engage in socially deviant behavior (such as pornography or illegal acts.)

3. When social alienation and loneliness set in, the affected people might eventually become depressed
Even conducting hours of social conversations with online contacts may not reduce these feelings of depression. One reason could be that they may never see the faces of their online contacts or learn their real identities.

4. Online communities do not have a hold over their members that is just as strong as that of real-time communities.

5. Spending huge amounts of time online either participating in online communities or in instant messaging systems means that individuals do not participate in the activities of real-time communities as deeply or as often. Their relationships with people they can actually see and touch may thus deteriorate.

As you can see, there are various ways to conduct social conversations online. The trick is to balance real-time social conversations with online forms of social conversations.
About the Author
Peter Murphy is a peak performance expert. He recently produced a very popular free report: 10 Simple Steps to Developing Communication Confidence. Apply now because it is available only at: conversation starters
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