Social Networking Goes Green

One of the chief advantages of online networking is the ease with which you can meet other folks who share your interests in musical chamber pots or saving the rainforest.   If you're someone who enjoys social sites but think that Facebook just isn't earnest enough, consider one of the emerging breed of ethical/environmental/socially aware networking sites. bills itself as the Green Social Network and offers the appealing slogan "Change yourselves, change others, change the world." Immediately upon sign-up, Zelixy assigned me two friends, a neighborly gesture which puzzled me until I realized that Matt and Teddy are the founders and hence everybody's friends.  Unfortunately I didn't get my activation email, so while I'm officially a member (check me out under Rupert) I can't access or change my profile.  Zelixy has green news, contests ("Beg Al Gore To Run!"), education, and the ubiquitous user-submitted audio-video content. I found the site navigation confusing, but then trying to get around MySpace sends me into spasms of bewildered rage, so take my opinion for what it's worth.

Actics’ slogan is "a new way to live your ethical values through feedback from the people who matter to you", which is a little presumptuous in assuming that Actics users matter to me more than say, my mom. At registration, new members pick three values that particularly resonate from a list of possibilities like integrity, loyalty, humility, and tolerance (I chose transparency, strength of character, and environmentalism because greed, sloth and envy weren't offered.) For each value, you're asked to select a definition that works for you, and to explain how you turn the concept into action. You then maintain a running moral monologue about your progress while the community offers feedback for your improvement. It's a neat idea, although I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with a bunch of strangers nagging me because my transparency isn't up to snuff.

For a more focused format, try Tree-nation. This site solicits members to help fight desertification by funding the planting of 8 million trees in Niger, Africa.   Members can have saplings planted for prices ranging from 10€ to 75€ depending on tree type. Tree-nation  includes a GPS function that allows you to locate your tree on a map, so I guess you could actually drop by with a watering can if that's your thing.

None of the sites have the easy usability of a Facebook, but if you want to meet like-minded web socialites and maybe do some good, have a look.