Not a day goes by where I don't hear something about the social networking websites, Facebook or MySpace. They have become words that we all know. Even my seventy year old Mom has seen my page. No matter where you go, you see and hear something about these sites. Until just recently my best friend Isaiah wouldn't be caught dead on such a website. Now, he's plugged in and networking away.
Personally, I love the whole idea of having a place where my thoughts, passions, and daily happenings can be seen. My MySpace profile is more of a promotional tool than anything and is maintained by others. My Facebook profile, however, is more of a personal tool. I upload pictures from activities; connect with long lost pals; and maintain correspondence with friends. ChicagoPride.com has even provided the Pride Pal Network for those in the LGBT community and their supporters. It gives a safe environment to make new contacts & friends; share your photos; browse thousands of profiles; and read member blogs or post your own. It's easy to join and use.
With all of these social conduits at our doorstep, it's easy to only rely on those social networking tools that use the internet. Like most things, I think there is a balance. With my Pride Pal Profile I can not only get to know people in my city, but I can also invite them to events going on in the city. Both Facebook and MySpace give similar opportunities to create and invite people to events. The key is to get to know as well as meet.
I can't tell you how many times someone will come up to me with the introduction; "Hey! We're Facebook friends!". I love meeting people from my online profiles. Just in the last month I've met MySpace friend, Calvin from Michigan and Facebook friend Vince Baer from Chicago. What sweet people!
I am aware that some will use social networking sites for negative purposes. Not a month goes by where somebody doesn't swipe a resent picture of me to post somewhere on the internet; asking for personal gratification. There have even been stalkers who watch people's profiles for their daily activities. I guess like all things, we must be smart about what we put online.
I'm more interested in what positive things can be done with social networking sites such as this website's Pride Pal Network! Making BLOG entries, for example, is a great way to inspire, challenge, and motivate others. You can tell people what you think and feel about various subjects. It's a platform to share ideas and learn about others.
You can also use sites like Facebook to encourage and support others. Not a day goes by where I don't see a status update (Definition: A facebook indicator of one's current condition.) saying that someone's under the weather; or is broken up from their girlfriend/boyfriend. Right there is my chance to uplift and sustain. You can also create a support group of likeminded individuals. Just today I was invited by my friend Christopher Jessup at DePaul University to join his group to support creation of safer, more LGBT inclusive fraternity and sorority communities. I don't really know Christopher very well, but I see that he and I have something we are both passionate about; LGBT rights!
Using your social networking sites for a positive difference is a great daily choice. I hope you will join me here on ChicagoPride.com's Pride Pal Network or say hello on any of my other sites!