I was asked – indirectly – the other day what “we” did and, though I had to think for a moment before I answered (so as not to unduly offend), I knew that I was right when I reduced it to the fact that we were a “social network”. Given that we are now nearly 50 years old, the term Social Network may jar both with those of our membership who assume we are a Club and with those of us, imbued with a more IT- and internet-literate view of the world, who will only consider Social Networking as something enabled by Facebook, Twitter & the rest of the milieu.
The truth is somewhere in between.
A Social Network, according to Wikipedia (who else would we look to for a post-modern definition), is defined as: a social structure made up of individuals (or organizations) called "nodes", which are tied (connected) by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.
A Club, on the other hand (and here, we shall reverently revert to the OED as the Oxford Canadian Dictionary was closed in 2008) is defined as:
- an association dedicated to a particular interest or activity,
- the premises used by a particular club.
- an organization offering members social amenities, meals, and temporary residence,
- a commercial organization offering members special benefits,
- a group of people or nations having something in common: the wild man of the movies refused to join the teetotal club.
[FYI: No CAC officers were harmed in the making of the last example].
The power of Social Networks has been much in the news of late, not just because of the pervasive effect of Social Networking Sites (SNS’s to those in the know) but also because of the success, and notoriety of the subject matter, of the recent movie, “The Social Network” and its subject, Facebook, and founder, Mark Zuckerberg.
The original “Social Networks” were, however, the "Clubs": whether the Gentlemen’s Clubs of the 18th Century or the Working Mens’ Clubs of the 19th. Working Men's Clubs developed in Britain during Victorian times (circa 1862) as institutes where working class men could attend lectures and take part in recreational pursuits. Gentlemen’s Clubs preceded them as members-only private clubs of a type originally set up by and for British upper class men in the eighteenth century, and popularised by English upper-middle class men and women in the late nineteenth century. Thankfully, we are neither of the above.
We are all buffeted weekly, if not daily, by invitations to belong to groups, sites or premises offering club-like services. In the end, I believe, a club is the sum of its constituents – uniquely bonded with a common goal, whether it be: global sporting domination, class-discriminated business networking (no papers or mobile phones, gentlemen!) or, in our case, a genuine wish to connect with our own and with those Australians who wish to connect with us for bonhomie, bonnes nuits ou les bonnes idées.
We, at the Canadian Australian Club, a proud organisation now going well into its late 40s, are firmly of the belief that Networking is not a new term, being called Nice is not an insult and ‘Belonging’ is a positive.
So, on this first Canada Day of the second decade of the third Millennium (calendar pedants, please send your corrections to the Editor of The Globe & Mail, not me!), may I wish you and all of your families - whether you can join us for our fabulous Canada Day 2011 festivities on Saturday in Sydney or not – a wonderful, peaceful and very proud Canada Day!
Proudly Canadian (1963) & Australian (2010)