so i mini ranted on Facebook the other day a complete pot-kettle-black question about whether social networking has made many of us a lot more beggy

and i do mean ‘us’ because the other day a carefully subtle form of ‘advertising’ on someone’s status led to the complete surprise gift of two bottles of my favourite chocolate liquer, ‘Nachtmusiek’ [which reminds me, we are still working through those].

but i see people do it all the time – “Working home alone tonite and wouldn’t complain if someone brought a T-Bone steak dinner over” or “Ah the new iPhone 5 is happening – be fun if someone didn’t need their old iPhone 5 any more.”

it is a pretty safe practice, because at the very worst you end up with exactly what you had before [or some jerk writes a blog post about you!] but at the very best, you might just get lucky and find two bottles of… um i mean find that someone has been completely gracious and kind and totally surprises you with what you want.

i guess as a once off or an every-now-and-then it might be more harmless, but when people start using that space regularly for personal wish fulfilment advertising then i guess it feels a little needy… here’s looking at you brett fish anderson…

BUT then, looking at it from a different perspective, i absolutely LOVE the potential of the social networks when it comes to meeting legitimate needs and connecting resources and need.

one of my friends [well more friend of a friend] won a trip overseas with his band [including my friend Dreadlocked Mike] because of using Facebook as a voting platform.

just today i had a friend of mine working with underprivileged youth in an area reach out to me for help and i was able to connect him with another friend of mine working in the same area with the hope that between them there will be someone in the network who will be able to help out with the necessary mentoring.

Val and i have been given use of vehicles on so many occasions [back in South Africa and here in Oakland] when we needed them through people who had a spare one, or were able to give us theirs for a time, so generously jumping in and helping out.

same with cellphones  we had one phone and two sim cards and made an appeal online and now we have something like 5 phones and it became an embarrassment of riches.

help with removing a stain or a recipe? jump online and pose the question and call on the collective wisdom of your friends and their friends [if Uncle Google doesn’t sort you out first] but a tried and tested solution often beats something you randomly look up online and hope will work.

this is where, for me, social networking becomes so useful and exciting as a tool – raising prayer and support for issues like with what just happened in the Philippines – suddenly via Val’s dad who was going to be there and Eugene Cho who was Twittering about One Day’s Wages as one possible organisation that could help and a whole bunch of other avenues of how to get involved.

as with any tool, i guess it’s success and value lies in how well you use it – and so the challenge is up to us to use it for far more of the latter [helping people out in need and joining available resources to areas of lack]

i would LOVE to hear your opinion and thoughts on this and maybe even more importantly hear your stories… missing people being found, old friends being reunited, mass encouragement for someone who is struggling a bit, positive flash mobbing – these are all amazing ideas and ways of using the social networks for good, rather than me-vil.

In the meantime, as you ponder upon these things, if you could follow this link and go and vote for my super hardcore design for a Christmas sweater [complete with dinosaurs, abominable snowmen, dolphins and ninjas] the top 100 that get voted for will actually be made and that would be a lot of fun.