This weekend Miami Beach is hosting a “social networking” conference geared towards all those Internet types fond of bringing folks together online in all kinds of profitable ways. This means everyone from gearheads to preteens and potters to potheads—yep, for every segment of society there’s a social network just for them.

Think of it as a sort of religion for the masses encapsulated on the likes of YouTube or MySpace (links are to my pages on these) or those who like a big pond and Nubian Talk on Yahoo or Dogster (my page, again) for those who prefer a kiddie pool to splash around in (and enjoy goats, too, of course).

Some people spend so much time on these sites and in their avatar-icon alter-egos that someone’s bound to be making money off them. While I don’t spend a dime for myself in these worlds, I do fork over $14.99 every month for my son’s online, pseudo-social predilections. Add these increasingly popular subscription fees to the rising advertising dollars allocated to selling “real” products and the Internet becomes a very profitable place for people who run social networking concerns.

It seems everyone’s out there trying to make a buck in this market category. I’m sure that I contribute to this economy with my Nubian Talk lurking and Dogster forum contributions. And not a day goes by that I don’t receive an email, verbal referral or online comment urging me to check out some new site they want me to participate in. I’m sure you’re all tuned into the same, though the offers come faster and more furiously for me now that Dolittler’s been out there for a while. 

Lately, it seems I’ve been receiving ever more entreaties to join social networking sets or attend blogs geared to pet lovers, Most are Yahoo forums, Dogster groups and others emerging from well-established sites. Some are totally novel sites, like the celebrity-pet oriented AnAmigo. While I love checking them out, I’m not so sure they hit the mark.

Maybe it’s my preference for decent writing and some expert authority that drives me—as opposed to sheer need for human contact—but I just can’t get into most of these. Words for words’ sake to drive advertising and rake in a buck? Sometimes it just feels dirty, you know what I mean?

I guess that’s why I’ve been putting off the likes of Google’s AdSense on my blog. So you know, this tool helps bloggers support their sites with advertising income that comes from “click-throughs” to relevant products advertised on their site. It’s kept many a blogger alive and kicking while they build up enough traffic to support “real sponsors” (which I’m currently seeking). So you know, it’s a struggle to post daily (which I believe you deserve) and I’d like to support my “hobby” much as you responsible breeders want to support yours through pup sales.

Not everyone views these pet-oriented social networking sites in the same yellow light I do—otherwise there’d be no new ones to look over. Some readers revel in the back and forth that comes with displaying their pets and discussing their issues. I totally get this rose-colored approach that drives many of you. In many ways I wish I could participate like this in the world beyond the confines of my own immediate blogosphere (which is why I created the Virtual Vet Hospital, soon to go live on this site).

I do, however, participate to some extent on VIN (the Veterinary Information Network—for vets and vet staff only), Dogster (my hands-down favorite of the social pet owner sites) and (a brand new social networking primarily for young vets and vet students), but my involvement is limited to seeking or giving expert opinions, not to hanging out.

I’ve never been known to be terribly social in a laid-back way. Despite my outward appearance which says, “I really like to have fun,” my inner life is all medicine, books, film, music and opinion swapping.

I know this post is musing and self-indulgent, but I’m willing to take on new social networking challenges if you have them to offer. What’s your online social life like?