What use the ‘social inbox’?

I’ve always viewed myself as ‘sociable’. I’d say it’s one of my better qualities. Wikipedia describes the term ‘sociable’ as ‘willing to talk and engage in activities with other people; friendly’. Well, as a Gemini, I’m always willing to talk. I’m always ready to engage. And I love meeting and talking to people.

So how will the sociable among us adjust to Facebook’s newly launched ‘social inbox? It certainly seems convenient. As Joel Seligstein, a Facebook engineer, points out, long telephone numbers and numerous email addresses (work/home/fun/chat) make it complex to get through to friends sometimes. I also make life difficult for myself by having a habit of losing mobiles in cavernous black cabs.

Therefore, the chance to have all my contacts in one, online, semi-secure place is rather comforting. Already, if my phone goes unanswered for a couple of days, friends post on my Facebook wall, knowing that my daily routine means I’m likely to log in and respond within 24 hours – far quicker than snail mail, for sure.

But how ‘social’ is this messaging hybrid, anyway? Yes it probably means you can contact people faster, in a variety of mediums, from one place. But it seems to lend itself to finalising arrangements, swapping social plans, checking in – not true ‘socialising’ in the manner of engaging and interacting with people. ZDNet’s screenshots of the new tool make it appear cold, sparse, icy, and not just because of Facebook’s blue colour scheme.

Just as text messages and online chat are eroding the need for spelling and grammar, so this messaging system may erode the art of conversation, debate and all those other social graces I hold so dear. I don’t want conversations with my best girlfriends to consist of: “Where we going 2nite?” “Meet you at the pub @ 7” “K then, bye”. I want to weigh up venues, debate outfit choices, get a new line on their social lives so we don’t end up sat opposite each other, glued to our Blackberries, unable to converse in a civilised and social manner.

I’m all for staying in touch. But you want to be sociable? That’s something that happens offline.



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Editor in chief Suzi Dixon studied at Bournemouth university, went away for a while to work at The Daily Telegraph, then moved back to the sunny South coast for a quiet (er) life. Bournemouth News & Info is her website and she is assisted by the fabulous Fred From France in all things geeky and technical. Hire us to make your website, too, if you like.

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