To be honest the internet has had a big negative impact on my life in terms of time-wasting (that would be a big post in itself) at least since I got broadband 7 years ago.... and then more so when I got onto facebook in 2007, and perhaps especially during 2010 (and to some extend earlier in 2011). I should at least congratulate myself that I've cut WAY down on facebook time though as of the past year
One thing I'll say with facebook, I don't know whether or not this is at all a common experience, but as well as the time-wasting factor, I'm sure it's not good for me to spend too much time having in my face people's socialising that doesn't involve me!
On the plus side:
1.Look at all the opportunities for finding groups bike rides the internet provides!! True, if there were no electronic social media, there would still be cycling groups, but I'm sure it would be much more limited and harder to locate..... and likely a lot of people who form groups with friends would never think of publicising them anywhere, not due to wanting to keep it exclusive, but because no internet would mean no such easy and obvious way of getting word out. (Yes, I know there are noticeboards in Neighbourhood Houses and gyms etc. but it's obviously not the same!) And I can guess that on average for women it would be extra hard to find groups to ride with if it were largely reliant on riding with existing friends.
2. Meet Up ( http://www.meetup.com
): I properly "discovered" this under a year ago. Apparently this started in the aftermath of 9/11 with people looking to connect with each other and meet face to face. It is world-wide and (as with yahoo, google etc.) anyone can start any kind of a group (except there are limitations for activities involving for-profit business, and naturally the groups can't be dematory in their purpose). What's different about Meetup though is that the purpose is for meeting face-to face (although there is still the option of using discussion boards and group emails, at the discretion of a group's owner. So far I'm still sounding out the Meetup groups.... what I've attended so far is: a few road rides across two different cycling groups (and I would have attended a lot more, were it not for already having Cogsgirls and now this forum's Sunday SMR rides), a book discussion, two walks (through different groups), and I tried a couple of sessions of a Positive Psychology course (which I found wasn't what I was looking for at this point in time, but might still try out other activities from that group). All have been a positive experience with the people in the groups
Although I haven't attended much yet, it's great to know that the groups are there for any time I might want to mix with people! Another group I've discovered through Meetup says that it's in fact not a Meetup group, but it uses the Meetup platform for advertising (and RSVPing to) all its activities: http://www.notaclub.com.au
which is a social community, mainly (although not exclusively) for over-40s. How people join this group is: attend a Wednesday night open event which is drinks and optional dinner in Oakleigh (which I did six weeks ago after discovering the group's existence) and mix and mingle, and then (unless you've behaved in some extreme way that's contrary to the group's purpose
) you can join the group's private Meetup site and attend events or host your own (which can include posting events hosted by other people outside of the group or outside of Meetup altogether). I haven't yet attended any other of their events, but perhaps eventually I'll host something simple of my own, such as afternoon tea either as a picnic in a park or at my house. (Yes, some people would view that as a security issue, but plenty of people in that group host events at home.)
3. Common interest groups, teaming up etc. An example is http://www.boards.barbarasher.com
: without the internet, use of the author's ideas might have stayed being confined to reading her books, and for those who live in the right locations and/or can afford it, attending her expensive workshops..... and now she has a new website in addition: http://www.barbarasclub.com
which has both free parts and paid member parts.
4. Communication within organisations: I've seen how getting online can be slow to happen within organisations in which people don't have a lot of frequent face-to-face contact, and/or a large proportion of members are "older" - examples are the music organisation I teach through, and the (very small) Yoga organisation I belong to (with the Yoga, part of it was requiring official permission). It seems it can sometimes require a person to think of the right format for the organisation, or the right way to approach it: I tried, especially with the Yoga, with nothing happening as a result, but now both organisations have active online groups due to other people's initiatives. Of course it is partly due to the gradually increasing prevelance of social media, including with the advent of Facebook. With the Yoga, one of the younger (i.e. 30 yo) members thought of the smart idea of using facebook and twitter not just for communication within the group but for getting the word out to the wider public re events etc. (e.g. through "like" and "share" on facebook).
Re blogging, one of the things on my list of things I hope to do eventually, is some kind of ongoing blogging. I have been told that blogs can be divided into two categories: blogging for publicity (for a specific purpose) which requires regular posting to maintain an audience and credibility (unless it's by a person who already has the fame through other means), and personal blogging for which it wouldn't matter in least how often or seldom you post. For me, blogging would definitely be the latter category at this stage!
Some years ago I was a keen user of Livejournal, but lost interest before too long because it seemed unlikely that it would be anything other than online contact for the most part, because it didn't seem to have taken off much in Australia amongst my age group. (By the time I discovered Livejournal in 2004 or 2005, to my surprise I was already clearly an "older generation" in the context of social media.... perhaps it should have been no surprise when I was well into my 30s, but I'd still been used to thinking of myself just as "young"
!) Then Facebook no doubt eclipsed it! I was disappointed about Livejournal.... but now my point of view is Facebook actually has an advantage of using such short posts to read (and write).
The Yoga organisation now has a Blog http://www.samatasamashtidharma.blogspot.com
, hosted by one of the Yogis who was assigned that task. She posts reflections which anyone (be it from the Yoga or from the public) can comment on. I have only commented on a couple of her posts so far, but doing more of that is something that I plan to getting around to doing eventually (and in this context it's never too late to comment on an old post). [An aside to do with me being one of the "younger" yogis in the organisation, even though with very limited experience of blogging: at one stage the host sent out an email asking if there was a way in which she could comment on her posts using her own name so as not to make her comments look as if they had "authority" in relation to the Yoga or to the Blog, and I was able to tell her what to me was obvious - set up a new account in her own name, and log into that account to comment!] The organisation also not so long ago had two facebook groups, one public and one private (invitation only), but the leader decided to have the private group closed down, to try to get people to post more in the public group. The result to date: far fewer facebook posts all up! I've been trying to think of what I could post in the group myself, but it's main focus is posting about events.... what I am hoping to do is think of a subject for a reflective post NOT necessarily related to a specific event, then check with the group's host whether it is appropriate.
Re twitter: I have an account but have hardly used it (not even for Yoga, yet).
Hope at least some parts of this post are relevant!