[From an interview with Dennis Baron, author of "A Better Pencil".]
... Computer socialization -- is this putting an end to face-to-face human interaction? Or does it let us expand our social networks when face-to-face communication is not possible, either because of geographic distance or some other barrier? Obviously, there are people who will reject these kinds of things out of hand and say the only meaningful communication is the one that I can have face-to-face with someone, who say calling Facebook "friends" friends is the end of the meaning of friendship.
On the other hand, I survey my students all the time about this, and there's confirming data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project that, in fact, what people are using programs like Facebook and e-mail and chats for is to reinforce friendships and to maintain friendships across distance. My students say I did this semester abroad and the only way I could keep in contact with my friends was through Facebook, and stuff like that. I don't think for most people it replaces anything. I think it extends it. But certainly, there are people who want to say, look I have 15,000 Facebook friends and look how popular I am.Read More