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The Downside of Social Networking

2012-10-16


Over the last ten years, human interaction has dramatically changed. The way we communicate with each other in recent times has been altered through the use of cell phones and the Internet. The most dramatic advancement, however, has come through the invention of social networks. Ten years ago, social networks were not nearly as advanced or popular as they are today. Many were just trying to bring people with common interests together using chat rooms and other communication services. However, when Friendster emerged in 2002, people could now create their own profile and contact other friends to comment on and share different kinds of media. MySpace followed in 2003, expanding on Friendster's ideas and being the most popular social network until 2008. Facebook is now the world's most popular social network used by hundreds of millions of people. Today social networking sites are not just about interacting with other people. They are places to discover music, play games, and develop your personality. They are your own piece of the Internet. Social networking sites are the greatest advancement in the information and communications technology industry over the last ten years because they help people to socialize and keep in touch with each other.
Social networking sites have created an entirely new way to interact with friends. You do not have to see people in person to talk to them, or even have their phone numbers. As long as you are "friends" with them on a social network, you can post something on their wall or chat with them online. If you don't have enough time to talk to classmates or co-workers during the day, you can send them a message. Also, sharing all kinds of media is easier than ever. Ten years ago there was no easy way to do this. Social networks simplify interactions and keep them all on the same website. Basically, you are always in touch with everyone else. Anyone can contact anyone else at any given time. It is not even restricted to your own profile and interactions, either. You can see and comment on what other people post and do on each other's profiles. This can actually help people get to know each other better. You may not be good friends with someone in real life, but online you chat with them all the time. Social networks have changed the face of the way people communicate with each other.
In addition to interacting with people they see every day, social networks have also allowed people to keep in touch with distant friends and relatives. If there is a long physical distance between two relatives or old friends, that should not mean that they are emotionally distant from each other. Having instant online communication with far-away friends has advanced relationships between people who have moved away. In fact, it seems to have even started to replace phone conversations with these same people. Although people are free to communicate and share media with their relatives at any time, typed messages are not as interactive as phone conversations or meeting up with them in person. Social networks seem to have taken some of the emotion out of communicating with others. Sure you can write "LOL" or a smiley face, but that cannot compare to doing it in real life. This faceless interaction has revealed some of the downsides of social networking.
Social networking sites have gained criticism for its cause of cyber bullying and reduction of privacy, among other issues. Some people, especially teenagers, find themselves being teased or bullied online through a social network. Many times this cyber bullying is in addition to bullying they already received at school. Although bullies can't punch kids or give them wedgies through the Internet, cyber bullying can hurt even more because it is based entirely on verbal communication, usually taunting and name-calling to make the victim feel inferior. This can really hurt a child's self esteem and should be monitored and reported if found. People have also criticized social networking sites' lack of privacy. With their profile on the World Wide Web, anyone can view it. Although most social networks have privacy settings that the user can edit, all information posted on their profile, whether it is deleted or not, stays in the database forever. Many colleges and companies are even searching potential students' and employees' profiles before admitting or hiring them. Having inappropriate content can cost someone a job or admission to college.
Social networking sites didn't start off huge. MySpace and Facebook took a little while to catch on to the population. But once people started to become interested in them, the number of members skyrocketed. Social networks have affected almost every aspect of our lives. They are one of the greatest advancements in communications we have seen. But why are they so popular? It is mostly because they offer a new way to communicate; a way for people to have their own little place in the giant World Wide Web. They can keep in touch with friends, make new ones, and show off their personality to the world. Non-face-to-face communication has never been easier. Also, people don't have the pressures of conversation that they do in real life. You don't have to respond to someone right away; you can take time to think about what you want to say. People can also say things that they wouldn't normally in real life because the Internet acts as a barrier between them and the person they are talking to. These aspects are both a blessing and a curse; people still need to watch what they say.
The advancement we've made technology the past ten years is incredible. The way we receive information and interact with others has changed forever. The advancement with the most impact has been the social network. It has revolutionized the way people communicate with each other. Facebook is now one of the most visited sites on the Internet, and has even had a film made about it. People can instantly talk to others and share media with each other. It is an unprecedented level of communication. As far as we can see, social networks will be around for a long time to come.