|Way back when I first got into computers, and back when there was no highspeed and only dialup was available, a friend of mine started an ISP.|
Because I did work for him, I got a free dialup account.
Shortly after getting on the internet I discovered the IRC's. I got into chatting regularly and spent some time most every evening in a couple chat rooms where I became a regular.
Shortly after, say a year or two after, I met the lady who is now my wife. We chatted online back and forth for the better part of 5 or 6 years and even progressed to phone conversations the last year or two. No, funny people, we didn't "hotchat" or do "phone sex". Point in fact, we never even discussed sex so get your minds out of the gutter.......lol, but we did talk about everything else.
We met IRL (in real life) shortly after 9/11. That x'mas, I drove down and spent x'mas with her in North Idaho where she was living at that point in time. The following April we married. We just celebrated our 7th anniversary and are happier than I honestly ever thought possible with regard to relationships and can see no end in sight (excluding of course...death....lol).
Anyhow, would one consider the IRC's a "social networking site". I doubt it.
Back in the day, I used to have my own webpage. It contained personal info on me that I wished to shared and had pic's of me, my kid, some friends. At one point in time, it was quite common for people to have their own, similar, personal websites.
The present social networking sites like facebook, are really just an extension of that. I got talked into opening a facebook page by my wife because she has one. She started one to communicate and stay in touch with family in the US. It makes it a LOT easier for us to get pic's of our 7 yr old grandson from his mom. She constantly forgets to burn them to CD and mail it to us.
So I can see advantages, but like anything else on the internet, one has to be careful what they put on their site and who they allow to see it. The sites themselves aren't "bad" per se, but some of the people on them are. But this is true for any part of society out in "the real world". So one must keep their guard up on facebook and myspace, just like you would in the local pub.