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Guest Thinkers

Gen Y: Your ‘real’ friends are your online friends

The New York Timesreports today on a study of MySpace users from the United Kingdom. Here is a quote from the article:

The MySpace study asked social networking users between the ages of 14 and 21 (aka “Generation Y”) questions about their interactions both on social networks and in their real life, too. Some 36% of the respondents said they found it easier to talk about themselves online than in the real world, leading them to share more about themselves using technology. This group also felt that their online friends knew more about them, and so, in a sense, were closer than offline friends because they all knew what was going on in each other’s lives.

Outside of the social networking sites, the survey respondents overwhelmingly felt ill-at-ease in social groups. A whopping 72% said they felt “left out” and didn’t think they fit into any particular group. More than four-fifths (82%) said they moved between four or more different groups of friends in an effort to find acceptance.

So is this…

  1. Proof that Internet naysayers are correct that the Web is eroding young people’s ability to communicate effectively face-to-face?, or
  2. Proof that Internet advocates are correct that young people are breaking free of local, geographical constraints to find affinity groups that matter to them?
  3. In other words, are these results something about which to be concerned or to celebrate? Both? Neither? Thoughts?


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