Social networking connects past, present


University of Kentucky student Shannon Frazer, pictured in the Kernel office on 10/14/09. Photo by Ed Matthews

I remember back in the day when I didn’t have a cell phone. When I didn’t have Facebook. When my family didn’t own a computer.

While in a few years those statements will undoubtedly pinpoint my age (I’m only 22, thank you very much), it’s nice to reminisce on memories from that much simpler, network-free time.

Today, though, we’re all navigating through our own face-paced realities, controlled by social networking, instantaneous communication and updates from across the world.

It’s in this dual mindset that I was able to find the humanity in the new movie The Social Network, loosely based on the story of the real-life inventors of Facebook.

Granted, Jesse Eisenberg plays a really stuck-up version of Mark Zuckerberg and it’s highly unlikely that all the shenanigans that appear in the movie actually happened to a similar degree and in a comparable time frame.

But considering how far we’ve come since 2004, the year Facebook was founded, I’d say the entrepreneurial spirit of Zuckerberg’s team was in the right.

They were well-aware early on that Facebook was destined for great things, thanks to an untapped solution to a problem people hadn’t even realized they had. The problem: They weren’t connected. Yet.

Sure, cell phones were quite prevalent back then and the modern PC—thank you, Bill Gates—was nearing its 10th birthday.

Who knew that a group of Harvard dropouts would go on to be among the elite, “The Accidental Billionaires,” as Ben Mezrich’s 2009 book refers to them?

It’s strides like these and others made in the networking arena that has resulted in the information boom we enjoy today.

For those of you who attended CIS Technology Week 2010 this week, hosted by the College of Communications and Information Studies and the new Information Communication Technology Cooperative, you were probably enlightened by all the things technology can do and its role in the near future.

Drew Curtis, inventor of the humorous news aggregate site and guest speaker on campus Monday, said that typically “the next big thing” only has staying power of about five years. His only concession was Facebook, which is still going strong after six years of operation. Time will tell where social networking and technology will take us next.

For now, social networking is an integral part of practically everyone’s lives. Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare and other sites have created means by which people can connect and stay in touch that were unfathomable not that long ago.

It seems strange to take a 30,000-feet look down on our lives “now,” as compared with “then.”

Take my recent trip to the theater to see The Social Network as an example.

I remember when I actually had to stand outside the box office to purchase a movie ticket. That was before I had the option of visiting to the theater’s website to get said ticket, before I could transfer money to my bank account via an Internet-enabled phone should I need a few extra bucks and before I could tweet, FourSquare-post or Facebook-Place my location to let friends know where to meet me.

Wow, just how did we get along back then?