“Social networking” is all the rage. No surprise, right? It’s more than likely even how you found this article, actually.
But for all the hype, buzz and hoopla ((bustling excitement or activity; commotion; hullabaloÂ full definition)), being social and networking with people isn’t anything new.Â Social networking just found a way to tap into basic, human (or animal) desires and emotions that, I believe, we’ve been cultivating for millions of years:
- Feeling connected. Most (if not all) animals have the need to feel connected. So much so that we’ve given names to those communities in both the animal kingdom (gaggle of geese, school of fish, etc.) and within the human race (family, extended family, fraternity, clique, etc). Humans need to have a sense of belonging and showing their identification (e.g. religious groups, nations, gangs, alumni organizations). And with facebook (or LinkedIn or etc.), I know where I belong because I’ve signed up to be a fan, watch a page, tell the world where I belong.
- Show and Tell. Although we have to be taught to share in kindergarten, there are very few kids who don’t have the inate desire for showing their friends, teachers, parents or sometimes even strangers on the street a picture that they’ve drawn. And now, we can share with the world by uploading pictures, thoughts, comments and commentary.Â Share with the world instantaneously (without the cookies & milk or naps on little pieces of carpet, unfortunately).
- Competition. Even the earliest societies have formed games and teams to see who’s the best. Mayans, romans, greeks are main examples. But this instinct, I believe, is more primal and probably stems from our earliest animal instincts to be survival of the fittest. Instead of lions fighting over a gazelle like lions on the African plain or tigers in the jungle urinating on their territory, we can mark out our social environment by showing the world how many connections we’ve made or friends who’ve accepted our requests. Look everyone, who’s Mr. or Ms. Popular now.
- Nostalgia. This is an area that sets us apart from most other animals. Humans love history. We dwell in the past, we study the past, we try to learn from the past… and we try to relive it.Â Understanding where we come from (whether you look to evolution for explanation or look to religion for guidance) is something that humans have focused on for a long time.Â Now, we can reconnect with friends and remember all the good times without leaving our home. Our memories are stored and instead of just being in photo albums on a dusty shelf, we can build a collective historical record of our lives.
We’ve been naturally trying to do all of these things for a long, long time; they’re innate to being human.Â Technology has enabled us to express them now in a way that is conscise, consolidated and requires much lower effort than before.
And as companies jump on the bandwagon, trying to figure out how they can leverage to make profit directly from a website or indirectly help get their product or service known to more people, I’m puzzled. If a company is just waking up to the fact that they need to address their customer’s needs and values in this way, isn’t that concerning?