The Dotcomrade: The Many Faces of Online Friendship, by Brian Boyd
Why then—when the flourishing of today’s tools of communication have enabled an explosion of sociability—have the ranks of our closest confidants been diminished? Various interpretations tempt our judgment: Does the “self-creation,” or distortion, made easy by online anonymity and customizable avatars damn us to lose (as Yeats put it) “the heart-revealing intimacy / That chooses right” without which we will “never find a friend”? Does youth culture’s cry, “If you’re not on MySpace, you don’t exist,” reveal a generation of Berkeleyan idealists in the making, to whom “to be is to be perceived”? Or, as Ann Hulbert suggests in a recent article in the New York Times Magazine, does such data imply we are simply making better Aristotelian distinctions between friends—“a stark testament that we value a deep bond when we find it and aren’t fooled when we don’t”?
Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism, by Christine Rosen
As with any new technological advance, we must consider what type of behavior online social networking encourages. Does this technology, with its constant demands to collect (friends and status), and perform (by marketing ourselves), in some ways undermine our ability to attain what it promises—a surer sense of who we are and where we belong? The Delphic oracle’s guidance was know thyself. Today, in the world of online social networks, the oracle’s advice might be show thyself.