While researching the Essena O’Neill saga, I came across this video on YouTube.
It makes some really salient points about the benefits of social media, which can be carried across to (and arguably, amplified within) private social networks.
Social networks open us up to new ideas and new points of view. Facebook, Twitter and other large social networks are like taking an undergraduate class; lots of perspectives and ideas, from lots of people, all in the same space, figuring out what they think about things and finding what they love. Private social networks are like a PhD, or a masterclass: a smaller group, really refining their ideas and beliefs.
Starting up a private social network where people can gather around a shared experience or something they all really care about creates a space for learning and growth; it removes the superficiality that pervades mass social media and networking sites from the proliferation of perspectives and ideas which can make social networking so valuable. For example: if you create a Facebook page or group for discussions of transfeminist issues, you are likely to get some homophobic, misogynist and transphobic people slipping through the cracks and dominating discussion. If you create a private social network, it’s a focused, safe space which could ultimately build similar numbers and achieve the same things.
In essence: while we could certainly live without social media, our intellectual and emotional lives can absolutely be enriched by it, in a variety of ways. Private social networks create yet another, more dedicated space where that enrichment can take place.