Using Your Mac to Socialize

Folks routinely surf the Web seeking specific types of information — headlines, stock quotes, vacation deals, weather, homework help, sports scores, and technical support. But as much as anything, the Internet is about meeting and connecting with people. These people could be job prospects, would-be employers, or people who share your zeal for the Chicago Cubs, sushi, and Macintosh computers. Persuasion takes on a major role in cyberspace too. You'll get on your virtual high horse and attempt to coax others around to your way of thinking.

And, yes, finding companionship, romance, and (under the best of circumstances) long-lasting relationships is part of the cyber-experience too.

Critics have often sneered, "These people need to get a life." But many Netizens (citizens of the Internet) have rewarding lives online and offline. And on the Net, they're congregating in vibrant communities with individuals of similar interests and passions.

Who do you know? Who do your friends know? Who do the friends of your friends know? That's pretty much what online social networks are all about. By leveraging your direct and indirect contacts, you might find a place to live, broker the deal of the century, or land a recording contract. That's the hope anyway.

Still, social networking sites can help you network and help you be social. They may combine blogs, instant messaging, photo sharing, and other tools. Some are difficult to pigeonhole, so don't take offense if the following sites don't fit the classic definition of social networking, assuming that such a thing exists:

  • Classmates.com: Looking for an old high-school flame or an Army buddy? Classmates is a good place to wax nostalgic and find reunions.
  • Facebook.com: Social networking on the college campus and in select corporations.
  • Flickr.com: Image-sharing site (owned by Yahoo!). Members tag their uploaded pictures so that they can be discovered by others.
  • Friendster.com: An early pioneer in online social networking, with more than 27 million member profiles.
  • Imeem.com: Instant messaging meets social networking.
  • Linkedin.com: Geared toward helping you with business and professional connections.
  • MySpace.com: A popular hangout for young people (with more than 70 million members), including burgeoning musicians. Now owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
  • Yahoo.com: A place to share blogs, pictures, recommended books, music, movies, and more.
  • Youtube.com: A place to upload and share amateur videos, including bootleg footage from concerts.
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