Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hanging out with friends

It is half past midnight on a Tuesday-Wednesday night as I am posting this. I ought to be sleeping but while brushing my teeth, I had this revelation which I just thought that I need to write down immediately.

I got back from a worktrip from Istanbul tonight. It seems that my fate for the next year at least is to be an advocate for intercultural and inter-generational debate. I feel very passionate about praising how clever young people are with the media. At work we are preparing a big festival for June 2008 around user-generated content. I realised that while talking full-time about this subject I should also look into my own media use every now and then.

As I press F9 on my iBook, I can see all the windows I have open on my laptop. Currently I have Flickr (photo), MSN (chat), Linkedin (networks), Skype (chat), Facebook (networks) and Blogger (weblogs). This is relatively normal.

I know a lot of people could find this sad or pathetic. I have also come across the question:"Why don't you read a book or hang around with your friends?"

The answer is obvious to those familiar with these tools: I am hanging out with my friends. 20 years ago it would not have been possible chatting on a normal evening with friends in Finland, New York, California, London and what have you. The common misconception is that young people are replacing "normal" interaction with talking to strangers online. This is not the case. I just use myself (although not that young anymore) as evidence. I share things with people I know. I am a Finn living in another country. 20 years ago it would have been close to impossible for me to keep in touch with all my friends or share things daily with my family. Of course I also hang out with the friends here in Amsterdam but it is extremely rewarding that I can chat for hours and hours with people I have known for years but who happen to live far away.

Tools like Facebook are fantastically intelligent in helping you to keep private things among your friends and other things shared with millions - just like it has always been.

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