Of course, I checked Facebook at least three times today-I have to know what is going on with my friends. I congratulated one friend that had lost eighteen pounds. Hearing about the tragedy of one old friend, I offered my thoughts and prayers, and said a prayer for this special family on the spot. Then I played a round of a favorite spelling game-and now matter how hard I have tried, I still can’t catch a faculty member at my son’s school. But my vocabulary and eye-hand coordination has improved significantly since she began challenging me a few months ago.
Then I picked five movies I have watched over and over and published them so my world can see-complete with pictures. I browsed college graduation pictures of a young woman I had once taught in Sunday School when she was a small child. After that I posted a picture of my own: of my husband and son baking a Mother’s Day cake for me. When Associated Content publishes this article, I will share it with my 260 wonderful friends.
I have an eclectic and fantastic group of friends-some back from nursery school and others I have met recently at our new church. I have organized parties, groups and events right on the site and have pulled these people out of cyberspace and into real life with real conversations and real hugs. I feel connected and cannot believe how I had lived without these friends in my life for so many years.
I have a MySpace page as well, and I am trying to understand Twitter. And while the big three get all the press, I have started looking at social media networking sites to connect with people who share my common interests, from writing to mothering to reading great books. This is the new world. Just as doctors can be general practitioners and cover all the possible angles, when we want specific information, we want a specialist.
Enter the new world of specialized social media networking. These offer all the same tools as the big three, but there is a common defining bond that these ’boutique’ networks provide. Some are recent upstarts and others have been around for a while. If, at times, you want a special targeted group of people that are uncannily similar to you, these bear a look and a try.
Mothers need to connect to share ideas and memories and dreams. Somewhere out there is a mother that has the same situation as you. One of the most interesting sites I have found-and joined-recently is The Motherhood. With membership at less than 300, it is still on the upswing and is highly targeted.
One of the facets that is so interesting is that on the site, under the notion that often, mothers just ‘need to vent’ is the fact that you can call into the site via your cell phone and speak your mind, ask for advice, or just tell the women of The Motherhood that your baby just took his first step! Then your fellow members of the motherhood can answer you with a note or make a phone call of their own. I have found this site to be exceptional and am looking forward to connecting with the other moms in the ‘Moms who write’ circle. This site was created in 2008 by two friends and mothers and is free to join. This site truly embraces womanhood and sisterhood in common ground.
Another mom’s group is Café Mom. The premise is the similar to The Motherhood-wherein the goal is to get all moms across the country in small groups where they can help each other. Although I have only recently signed up, I found a group of women that are mothers in North Georgia where I live. This will help me tremendously as a new resource for my kids as well as my continued research and writing about the region. They have a “journals” section, which is essentially a grouping of mini-blogs.
One exceptional growing group is My Church. I found this group of groups fascinating. You can link in with Facebook and other groups to integrate those sites with My Church. It is a wonderful opportunity for churches to get members together in the high tech world in which we live. Often schools and churches seem to be the last to get on the ‘tech wagon.’ My Church is a perfect solution to bring today’s churches online.
Book lovers and aficionados will love Library Thing. This is one site, that as a writer and avid reader, that I cannot wait to explore more fully. Here, you can catalog your library of books you have, have read, or are reading right now. You can enter up to 200 books for free, and there is a nominal fee of $10 per year or $25 for a lifetime if you decide you need to enter more. Book World has called it “one of the seven wonders of the Web.”
Amazon and The Library of Congress are at your fingertips and you can catalog all of your books in very little time. Yet, the website is more than just a bookshelf tool: it has become a thriving community of readers. They promote the fact that you can connect with other individuals that ‘eerily’ have almost identical libraries and tastes. You can hook up with them to ask a direct recommendation and see if a book is any good. Facebook has a similar virtual bookshelf in their Living Social application, but Library Thing provides so much more.
Baby Boomers looking to network with other Baby Boomers will find their niche with Eons. This group is targeted to members who want to connect with people of similar ages and interests. This is a perfect group that avoids some of the larger networking groups because they often find them to be sophomoric and not applicable to their lives. The target group of this site is for people born from 1946 – 1964, ranging in ages from the mid -forties to around sixty years of age. It was founded by Jeffery Taylor, who serves as the CEO, and was the creator of Monster.com which was one of the very first dot com groups on the World Wide Web. Monster.com remains as one of the most successful career sites ever.
The five groups reviewed here are only a tiny sampling of the vast specialized social networks that are out there and available. Wikipedia does a great job of listing all the sites, the numbers of members, stats and more. There is even a chart listing them all which is interactive and with a single click will take you directly to the site that interests you.
So Facebook in general terms. Promote yourself on MySpace and YouTube. Then when you want to connect with a group of people globally who share your specific interests or with whom you want to discuss your area of need or expertise-join a specialized group or two. Invite a few old friends to join you and find new ones in your area-or across the globe. It is a small world, after all.
Interactive List of all social networking sites: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites
Library Thing, www.librarything.com
My Church, www.mychurch.org
Café Mom, www.cafemom.com
The Motherhood, www.themotherhood.com