Put simply, social networking is a way for one person to meet up with other people on the net. People use social networking sites for meeting new friends, finding old friends, or locating people who have the same problems or interests they have, called niche networking.
More and more relationships and friendships are being formed online and then carried to an offline setting. Psychologist and University of Hamburg professor Erich H. Witte says that relationships which start online are much more likely to succeed. Witte has said that in less than 10 years, online dating will be the predominant way for people to start a relationship. One online dating site claims that 2% of all marriages begin at its site, the equivalent of 236 marriages a day. Other sites claim 1 in 5 relationships begin online.
Social networking sites play a vital role in this area as well. Being able to meet someone as a "friend" and see what common interests you share and how you have built up your friend base and "likes" you can truly see a fuller picture of the person you are talking with. Most sites are free instead of being pay based which allows younger people with stricter budgets to enjoy some of the same features as those of adults who are more likely to be able to afford pay based sites. While not the intended or original use for these social sites, a large area of their current function has stemmed from people wanting to meet other people in person and with the extremely busy schedules of most people, it is a fast, reliable and easy way in which to do so that costs you little time and money (if any).