We’re almost all internet users nowadays, we’re fast becoming social network users with more than 60% of internet users using an online social network. As a result the top social networks have grown to astonishing sizes: 950+ million Facebook, 180+million Twitter and so on. As a nation of internet users, we’re very engaged in social networking.
But is that social online behavior translating to an increase in social behavior offline? The answer, from a May 2012 survey of 894 North American internet users over 18 years of age by Authentic Response and Concept Metrics, seems to be: not at all. While respondents were actively involved in almost 2 (1.8) social networks on average, and 6% belonged to a whopping 5+ networks, the vast majority (2/3) answered that they did not use these social connections for business or professional purposes. Nor do they translate into in-person business meetings: only 15% claimed that they did.
The story is similar on the personal side which came as a surprise. While understandable for business reasons, the lack of in-person connections with our social network contacts for professional purposes would be reversed for personal encounters. But that was not the case: only 37% of respondents strongly agreed with this statement
The way in which I communicate with people in my personal life has improved since I started using online social networks.
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So, our online social lives have very little impact on the quality and quantity of our in person, “real” life interactions.