Social media is dressing up AND dressing down

It's official: social networking is coming into the office, but it has a date after work.

Last week, two very interesting pieces of news came to light. First off, it was announced that Microsoft Outlook 2010 was going to include features that allow you to interact with Facebook and MySpace Twitter. Secondly, a recent study shows that people are more frequently using their mobile devices to do social networking than their desktop machines.

My mind reels from the implications of these two pieces of news. First, the fact that Outlook, which has to be the most-frequently-used email client in business settings in the United States, will be incorporating more social networking features (it already connects with LinkedIn) means that social networking is officially entering the office environment in a way it hasn't before. Lots of offices block the Facebook and MySpace Twitter websites in the name of productivity, but I wonder if those policies will stay in place once social networking is incorporated into Outlook. Will those companies begin to accept social networking as an opportunity, or at worst, a necessary evil in today's culture? Or will they simply block the feature?

Second, the noted prevalence of status and photo sharing on mobile devices has taken social networking into our everyday lives. Instead of doing the "nerdy thing" and going home to "waste time in front of a screen" (I use heavy quotes there because that's pretty much what I do with my evenings), people - cool people, even - are sharing their lives online when they're out actually, you know, living. They're posting pictures from the places where they're hanging out and having fun. They're posting their location on Foursquare in the hopes of meeting up with friends (or just to brag). They're posting videos from parties. Social media is being used WHILE people are out actually being social, in other words!

The long and short of it is, social networking is stretching its boundaries. It's moved beyond the sphere of the geeky elite into everyday offices and the places where the cool kids hang out. Small as these two pieces of news might seem, together they mean that social networking is now thoroughly permeating people's lives, both professionally and personally.

Update: I read incorrectly - the announcement said Outlook will connect to MySpace, not Twitter. Apologies for any confusion.