In 2001, sociologist Robert Putnam wrote his influential thesis about the decline of community engagement in America. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community described the culture's retreat from traditional in-person social networks like civic groups, service clubs and even churches toward the more isolating kinds of entertainment and interaction made possible by technology.
Almost right on cue, Mark Zuckerberg founded the social media platform Facebook while a college sophomore at Harvard in 2004. Originally designed as a platform for college students to check one another out, Facebook is now a worldwide network of some 2 billion users who interact with many "friends," some of whom they have never met in person. What was originally a chance to connect and reconnect with new and old friends has morphed into a global phenomenon that purportedly shrinks the distance between people and gives them an opportunity to interact and share themselves with one another.
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