I’m sure that over the next few months, people are going to start getting tired of me talking about Australia. Sure, we’re moving there for a year. Sure, it’s going to be some kind of life-changing event. But who will think about the poor networks? The poor, poor networks.
On the one hand, with the ability to stay connected through Social Media, blogging, emails, and Skype, the potential damage is mitigated to some degree. It certainly won’t be like it was the first time I did something like this in 1994. I recall receiving about five letters from friends back in Canada during that whole year and phone calls were out of the question (my friends and I were 15 at the time, we didn’t interact in a meaningful manner (Corner Gas reference)). Now, I’m sure, there are people that I’ll be able to continue “talking” with on a day-to-day basis. For some people the routine won’t even really be that different than it is now, since we’ll be using the exact same tools. The only difference being the influence of time zones.
However, it does raise the question that, despite these modern conveniences, there may well be some damage done to the networks that I am a part of. First and foremost, to the relationships I have with the people that I do see, face-to-face every day. This will probably be mostly felt in my office, which really is a second-home. Despite the fact that I will most likely be in touch on a regular basis, and the fact that much of our interaction occurs by email or instant message, there will still be that missing propinquity (my new favourite word from Kadushin). We will no longer share the location-based awareness that is required for this type of connection.
For my part, this process will certainly remove many of the support networks that allow me to feel comfortable and safe. Even Kadushin agrees that “The apparently neat distinction between feeling safe and reaching out becomes muddled in modern society” (p. 58). Although that feeling of safety from the traditional networks is no longer there, there will certainly be a greater impetus to create new networks to provide that foundation. Perhaps this will propel me toward being a bit more outgoing, which doesn’t hurt in any regard. The overlay of new networks on top of the old will lead to additional changes. I think that the best scenario is one in which I am able to maintain my old networks, develop new networks and become one of those bridging connections I’ve been hearing so much about (p. 103).
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Here’s the fauna who I will be working on incorporating into my new networks:
Kadushin, C. (2012). Understanding social networks : Theories, concepts, and findings. New York: Oxford University Press