Alot of the examples cited are related to the media effects theory, as expressed by melindamarie. My concerns of social networking are not centered on your concerns of consumers imitating media behaviour, rather your comments on the behaviour that comes from being part of a networked community. Online communities enable consumers the opportunity to engage in various forms of personal identities, and provides the opportunity for active user participation.
It is apparent though, that social networks open up users to a number of socially disruptive purposes and can in fact disconnect people between their online and offline identities. Online interaction is replacing offline interaction – that is a fact. Every extra hour spent in an online network is one less hour the user is engaged in the ‘real world’. I do not believe that people who are part of online communities and virtual worlds are socially retarded, however, there is evidence to suggest that social networks and excessive internet usage can contribute to anti-social behaviour, as reported by Nie,(2005). The internet is indeed a very different platform from reality and the way we act is entirely different, despite online communities creating norms and attempting to regulate behaviour.
American Psychological Association, 1998, Isolation increases with internet use, Volume 29, No 9 http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep98/isolat.html accessed 30 April, 2008.
Nie, N (2005), Researchers link use of internet to social isolation, Stanford University, http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep98/isolat.html accessed 30 April, 2008