posted on Jun, 21 2011 @ 01:16 PM
This is a paper i wrote in my mass media class that sums up this topic niecely, regarding a couple supplied articles, i will try to find
links to them otherwise the names and publishers are presented.
Social networking sites are not just a way for people to communicate with peers and family; they are proving to be a valuable tool for social
change. Online interaction is changing the way people voice opinions and go about their daily lives. From altering the way we conduct a conversation
to being a catalyst for political change; social websites like Facebook and Twitter are changing the world that we live in. This subject was
extensively explored in Clive Thompson’s New York Times article “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy”
People usually up-date their status one to two times a day but sometimes many more. By allowing people into their day-to-day lives a new sense of
“ambient awareness” is a becoming a popular phenomenon. Clive Thompson recorded this as being “very much like being physically near someone and
picking up on his mood through the little things he does — body language, sighs, stray comments — out of the corner of your eye.” These one to
two sentence blurbs of someone’s thoughts are giving people new insight on their friends and allowing anyone who is interested a glimpse into a
stranger’s life. These constant up-to-the-minute updates are the backbone to what is becoming a social revolution and are a key asset to what is
Some people crave this type of interaction Thompson writes “When they experienced this sort of omnipresent knowledge, they found it to intriguing
and addictive.” By participating in this incessant online contact people are creating an entire new facet of their lives and devoting a huge portion
of their attention on projecting themselves towards others. This type of interaction is affecting people’s lives in many different ways. For some it
is strengthening bonds between good friends by allowing a constant feedback and acknowledgement of their daily activities. For others it is an outlet
for meeting new people and holding less personal friendships by having hundreds of acquaintances. Either way it is greatly affecting the amount of and
the way that we hold relationships as a society.
In 1998, the anthropologist Robin Dunbar argued that each human has a hard-wired upper limit on the number of people he can personally know at one
time. The introduction of social networking on the Internet has challenged this hypothesis. How is it possible that people have thousands of
“friends” on the Internet? Is it that they are not actually personal relationships or is the introduction of technology into people’s social
lives increasing this “Dunbar number”? In my opinion having Twitter followers and Facebook friends does not automatically warrant a personal
relationship. These people that you might not necessarily know but you know of, I don’t believe count towards the number Dunbar is referring to.
This kind of non-personal relationship I feel counts against your ability to hold meaningful relationships by trivializing what a relationship means
to an individual. I agree with Caterina Fake’s statement “These technologies allow you to be much more broadly friendly, but you just spread
yourself much more thinly over many more people.” By undermining the meaning of a friendship or personal relationship you are left without the
skills necessary to be closely connected with the people who are closest to you.
Caterina commented on the fact that she had not yet met her friend’s one-year-old child “I thought, I really should go meet her in person. But it
was weird; I also felt that Flickr (a picture based social networking website) had satisfied that getting-to-know you satisfaction, so I didn’t feel
the urgency. But then I was like, oh, that’s not sufficient! I should go I person!” This introduces the concept that by going on your computer and
looking at someone’s photo album it satisfies the normal urge you have to see that person face-to-face. Caterina was able to recognize that this was
not a good habit and that seeing someone in person is important, the question is, is everyone as sensible as Caterina or would they allow this online
voyeurism to satisfy that need? By allowing the pictures on your online profile to represent you as a person, do you feel accurately represented? In
my own experience I think that this view of someone can be extremely jaded. If someone were to judge me by my pictures online they would think that my
entire life consisted of going on vacation, going to concerts, and partying. In reality this is only a small portion of my activities but you
wouldn’t usually post a picture of yourself studying or hanging around watching movies.
By allowing your thousands of online acquaintances this glimpse into your personal life, how personal is it really? This is where
privacy setting becomes such an important tool in the world of online sharing. You have the option on Facebook to only allow people who you have
accepted as a “friend” to view your profile or to allow anyone who wishes to see everything including your photos and personal messages. It is my
advice to use this to your advantage and make your page private and most importantly be careful who you allow access to your information. Think about
it from the context of walking along a busy street in a city passing by hundreds of people every minute, would you want every one of those people to
be able to view photos of you and your family, or listen in on your conversation with your significant other?
On the topic of privacy and the sharing of personal information there has been a recent judicial decision made by a Long Island judge according to a
recent article in Newsday “A Suffolk County judge has ordered a Long Island woman to open up her private Facebook and MySpace musings to a chair
company she is suing in a personal injury lawsuit.” This event raises many questions on how safe people feel documenting their lives on the
Internet. In my opinion this decision is a direct violation of the privacy that people expect when using social networking websites. When you click
the button making all of your posts and information private it does not have an attached copy of the
Miranda Rights informing you that what you post can be used against you in court. It is my belief that if this warning were displayed people would not
use these services the way they do so now.
Social Networking sites are revolutionizing the way people interact and communicate. Some may argue that this is for the better; in my eyes it
depends on what aspect of it you are looking at. The concept that information can be reviewed and commented on instantaneously, creating social change
and progress is a very helpful and forward thinking movement. The way that social networking is being used by most people as a way to keep in touch
with friends and acquaintances has a possibility of being detrimental to societies normal social constructs. All in all I think that people who choose
to use these websites as a form of communication have to be careful; they need to be careful of how they let it affect their personal relationships,
who they share their information with, and most importantly what kind of information they choose to share.