Today, with recent advances in technology, people can maintain their social networks electronically. They don’t need face-to-face contacts. Whether through text messaging, handheld devices, or social networking sites like Facebook, a significant amount of networking occurs online. Adolescents can now interact freely with distant friends, even under close scrutiny by parents or teachers.
Virtual networks also can help to preserve real-world networks interrupted by war and other dislocations.
The deployment of U.S. troops in the Middle East and Afghanistan increased many people’s reliance on e-mail. Today, digital photos and sound files accompany e-mail messages between soldiers and their families and friends. GIs can even view siblings’ graduations or children’s birthday parties live, via webcams. And U.S. soldiers have been posting their opinions of the war in Afghanistan in online journals called web logs, or blogs. Though critics are skeptical of the identity of some of the authors, these postings have become yet another source of news about the war.