Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Social Networking and Media: Good and Bad for Society

     If there is one thing that many people can thank technology for, it is the ability for one person to communicate with any other person in any location around the world so long as you know how to work a mouse and a keyboard. For those of you who are more tech savvy, web cams and microphones can also be included into the methods of communication. It is impossible to talk about how social media sites are bad without highlighting the undeniable positives that it brings. Because of social networking, it becomes nearly impossible to lose touch with someone after you move to a different location. Suddenly, it does not become a necessity to have an interview in person: some companies are willing to accommodate candidates by setting up interviews through skype and other avenues.

     Because of social networking, people have met their true loves that they may never have met had there never been such sites as eHarmony, Match.com, and others. Because of social networking, everyone can know exactly what you are doing, where you are doing it and who you are doing it with: and you don't have to call anyone in the process! (I'm not sure if that is always a good thing, but everyone is doing it, so I guess it's good!) Because of social media, we have been able to enjoy videos of people acting completely retarded, allowing videos to become insanely viral, resulting in the unlikely successes of many people. I won't lie, if I was smart enough, I would have had a camcorder fastened to my waste about seven years ago, waiting for that moment that would make me known to the world!  Yes: social networking and media has presented quite an array of benefits to society...or has it?

     There is no question that social networking has made it significantly easier to keep in touch with one another, but it has also proven quite detrimental to society because we are subconsciously creating barriers in our relationships with this technology.  Once upon a time, I would go out, meet new people, and ask for their phone numbers to keep in touch and meet face to face in the future.  Now, instead of a phone number, I am asking people if they have a Facebook page or if I can follow them on Twitter.  Back then (which was no more than 10 years ago, by the way...), people relied on face to face encounters to generate first impressions and gain information about one another.  Today, all you have to do is go to their profile page, which will provide you all sorts of information such as: home town, date of birth, relationship status, email information, employer, phone numbers, and much more.  Hell, if I was into identity theft, all I need to do is invite people on Facebook, and I'll get everything minus their social security number, which I wouldn't be surprised if they gave it to me considering how much information they are willing to provide in the first place!

     Just as easy as it may be to make friends or find long lost friends through social networking, it is now just as easy to cut communication or to end relations using the same technology.  The worst part about it is that people actually take it to heart!  Once upon a time, confrontation was the norm; as a matter of fact, it was welcomed!  Shoot, even a break-up with a significant other over the PHONE is more personal than doing it on the internet!  Instead, people resort to Facebook to tell us all how they feel: eliminating (in their minds) the need for confrontation.  We have grown so attached to social networking that we hope someone will take a hint when we "de-friend" them, and hope that we can avoid the awkward moment the next day when we see them at work or school.  Whereas we used to be able to handle issues in person, we let Facebook, Twitter and the like do the talking for us.  The more people who "like" your status, the more meaningful your statement becomes, and the more it affects the individual(s) targeted.

     And then there's our children...my goodness.  I remember when I was a kid.  All I wanted to do was go outside and play with my friends every day, regardless of the weather conditions.  If it was a rainy day, it just presented an opportunity to make more of a mess of myself as I rode my bike through the mud!  Nowadays, children will sacrifice a breath of fresh air just so they can interact with their next door neighbor (no exaggeration!) online through Facebook or Skype.  Not only that, but we have our kids talking in abbreviations like brb, ttyl, lol, lmao, omg, rofl, omg, idk, etc., to the point that I am smdh (shaking my damn head!)!  If that isn't enough, kids are also shortening their words to the point where I question if vocabulary is even taught in school anymore (lyk instead of like, sed instead of said, ima instead of I'm going to...you get the picture)!  Something tells me that our college students in the future will be reading phonics books instead of taking legitimate classes.  In case you haven't notices...our kids are becoming stupider with technology!

     It was bad enough when kids had to deal with bullying in school.  With technology we have allowed them to receive a double dose.  Just when you think you got away for the evening, you go online and see more nasty verbal taunts directed at you.  Now, instead of leaving your issues at school, everyone else on your profile can see what's going on since the attacks just keep coming.  And then we wonder why kids are committing suicide at such an alarming rate.  Think about it: once upon a time, people had an opportunity to collect their senses after a bad day, and hope that the next day would be better.  People could reflect on why things went wrong and make adjustments.  Now, bullies - or people who may have it out for you - can continue the onslaught and torment you to the point of submission.  But no, social networking is AWESOME.

     Here is the kicker, even employers are jumping on to social networking and media sites to assist in evaluating a prospective candidate's activities outside of a professional environment.  So, not only do we have to deal with the aforementioned issues, but now we have to make sure we are squeaky clean because our profiles and activities could very well determine our success or failure in life!  Don't make joking comments that may potentially offend a particular race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion because your would-be future boss might fall into those criteria, resulting in your disqualification from the job you wanted.  How sad is that?  We have become so dependent on technology that we are at a point where we wouldn't know what to do without it.

     The more I look at it, the more I wish we were back in the stone age (the 1990's...think about it, compared to where we are today, we were inventing the wheel back then).  We used to value face to face meetings.  We were so much more eager to take trips back home to see our friends and family because we had stronger bonds.  While we can definitely keep in touch more due to several methods of communication, there is no way to deny that there is less meaning to friendship with one another.  I can attest to that.  Whereas, I was always eager to contact long lost friends, now I can just look them up, talk to them, and forget about them again like it was nothing.  Social networking definitely makes life easy, but it takes away from the real value of living.  That is an opinion from an Average Jorge!

No comments:

Post a Comment