Some possible reasons:
Social networking changes the way business is done. I am currently doing some consulting work for a web start-up. They are two young guys with a very interesting idea. How did I meet them? One of them showed up as part of my fraternity networking group on Linked In. I was interested in his company because I am seriously considering leaving mine. However, they have not received funding yet and aren't realy sure how to seek it. I have given them advice and pointed them in the right direction, but at the end of the day they need a veteran to help them through. I am not in a position to lead that charge for them. However, I knew the perfect guy. I used Linked In to introduce them. They've had a very productive meeting and my veteran friend is most likely going to sign on with my young friends in a mentoring-interim CEO capacity to help them through the funding process. Before Linked In was a story like this possible? No, because it is unlikely I ever would have met the young entrepreneur.
A serious desire to connect with other people in an increasingly hostile world? It is harder and harder to make friends the older you get and I think it is a daunting task at any age once puberty hits. Social networking gives people the ability to reach out there and find people they really have common ground with, allowing them to connect on a different level than normal. Normal being, "I work with this guy and he isn't a complete ass so let me go to lunch with him." Occasionally those relationships turn into real friendship. Most of the time they disappear as soon as one or the other changes jobs.
Are there more reasons? Yeah, without a doubt, but these are two big ones in my opinion. I started to write this post a long time ago about how fragmented society has become and how that is hurting television ratings. What I am starting to realize is social networking is becoming as fragmented as society at large. MySpace rose, and then Facebook, Friendster, Linked In and more and more. It has gotten so crazy someone started a social network search engine called YoName.
Look at all the networks it searches:
26... I am pretty dialed in webwise and I haven't heard of some of those. I am 100% sure that isn't all of them, because one of my favorites is Ning, and Ning is not included on the list.
What does any of this mean? I am really not sure, but when looking at sociological interactions of the human race, social networking is a very interesting twist in the way we touch each other.
No 1 of Consequence