A thing that really, really irritates me about the whole "social networking" hoopla is how it takes such a short view of history. Dave Pollard has a very nice, very useful writeup about social networking (2.0-style). (Sidebar: Was that mindmap done using Freemind, Dave? Great piece of software!)
But let's not forget that we humans have been "social networking" since before we fell out the trees. The fact that we're now trying to do so over the 'net, through a much-lower-bandwidth interface than we're geared for (nothing beats face-to-face!) just means that we've set ourselves some obstacles to overcome.
Perhaps the only significant contribution that the 'net brings is the ability to communicate anonymously. Some might argue that this is also the handicap that the 'net brings to our conversations, too, since it is what enables spam, wiki defacements, etc. But I think that anonymity is also exactly what allows us to express a lot more of our true nature, our inner self.