social networking… what will we become?

The new media, focusing on the internet and social media sites, are changing our culture whether we want it to or not. In PBS’s Frontline edition, Digital Nation, we see how schools are evolving to incorporate new media as a learning tool. What I thought was really interesting was the idea of school districts allowing their students to use the new technology if it’s within their budget. They make a reason as to why they encourage this way of learning because they want their students to grow with the new technology because by the time the reach their careers, they’ll already know what to expect. They’ve been growing with the new technology; not being bombarded like most of the workforce today.

New media has it’s positives and negatives, just like all inventions and creations. In the article, Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?, the author Stephen Marche says something which struck me as an, “uh-huh” moment. He stated that if you say that you miss the old days, you’re ungrateful. He’s right. While technology keeps evolving and we’re being bombarded by information, we should be incredibly grateful because we can have any information when ever we want it. It’s what you chose to do with that information that has changed our culture whether for the good or bad.

Sometimes this has a negative effect on people and I include myself in this truth as well. We have always been an instant gratification kind of society. It’s getting worse with information at every angle of our lives. If the internet is running too slow, or our phone apps have a minor glitch, we need it now; no exceptions. I see this as kids and even young adults in other aspects of life. There are people who expect their lives to move “accordingly”and are wanting more and wanting it faster. Whether it’s finding love, happiness, or answers to life questions; we want it now and expect to have it now.

To answer the big question, Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? There is no one specific answer. While in the article we see how loneliness has effected our culture, it all goes back to how you use it and what you do with it. There are people who choose to live their everyday lives depending on what’s happening via Facebook. I have friends who constantly update their status, “checking in” at places, tagging, and have all their personal information on-line. You also have people like me, who use it when they’re bored or to keep in touch with people who live out of state or out of the country. Until someone receives serious consequences from a post, status, picture, etc, I feel as the realization it will forever be on the internet doesn’t faze them. It’s a sad truth. Until a serious ramification is presented to them, will they then care.

For each social media site/application, everyone chooses a cyber identity whether they realize it or not. An example would be my other blog I have. I made it specifically to reach a specific group. To connect with them in order to share specific types of my writing. If I were to add a YouTube clip of a guy talking about double rainbows, I would be attracting a different crowd to look at the rest of my blog that wouldn’t be able to connect to the rest of my content. I have a specific goal in mind and an audience I want to attract; just like people do with their Facebook page, Instagram profile, and even Twitter account.

With this idea in mind, we have all been told to be conscience of what we put up on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs because it might bite us in the butt when we enter the work force. Sure, they tell this to us years later after I’m sure none of us really thought about it when social media sites were just springing to life. Social networking is becoming apart of our everyday lives. It’s something that’s going to be around, if not take off further. With this in mind, it will always depend on the person who’s creating the profile. It’s their decision with how they choose to use it and what they put for the world to see, forever.

Whether it’s fair businesses check your pages to see how you act is a touchy subject. Yes, there are always boundaries that you should be aware of, but for most people, they don’t care. I believe if corporations base whether or not you’re hired because of pictures you have on your Facebook page needs to be re-examined. We all have different personifications when we’re in different settings. I’m not necessarily going to act how I am with family in class room. Just like how I’m not going to act like I do when I go out in the work environment. During the interviewing process, they need to consider body language, how they interact with people, the potential employee’s answers to questions. I understand the concern and reasons for checking your Facebook page (or other social networks) for obscene material, but we need to start defining what is considered obscene material one more time.

For one day, I took out all the social media that didn’t interfere with school. The only medium that was hard for me to abstain from was my Snapchats. For me, this has become a form of communication. I can visually see what my friends are doing in Minnesota and they can see what’s going on in my life here in Colorado. It’s become a medium that has ignited old friendships – meaning because of a random Snapchat, I got a phone call from an old friend and we talked for hours. But, I do have friends that use Snapchat as a tool to meet new people. Whether it’s right or wrong doesn’t matter, it’s what they choose to do with it.

Abstaining from social media though is something I try to do frequently. Ever since I was about 12 years old, my family has been traveling internationally. Granted back then we didn’t depend on cell phones (or ever have them), but it was my first experience of not having the home phone and calling my neighbor to tell her what I was doing. As technology grew, cell phones and social mediums were on the uprising. My family kept traveling and for weeks and months at a time. I became used to not touching my phone for weeks at a time. I’ll admit, the first couple days it takes some getting used to. I’ve always been the one to take my battery out of my phone and lock it in the safety box. So, when I want to take a picture, it takes me a second to realize I’m using my camera, not my camera phone.

There’s some adjusting, but by the end of the three weeks or so, it hits me that I’m going to be bombarded with e-mails, texts, voicemail, Facebook comments and everything that goes along with abstaining from the mediums that have become another limb to most people. I try to “cleanse” myself every once and a while too even when I’m back in the country. I never go to the extremity of taking my battery out, but I do turn it off or only use it for PHONE CALLS (no texts). It drives people crazy. I just sit and laugh to see how dependent people have become and realize that life exists more than just on a screen.

The article, Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?, made me a little frustrated in some areas. For me, Morira Burke put it perfectly, “the effect of Facebook depends on what you bring to it.” I understand the scientific studies that they did in reference to loneliness and Facebook, but it’s what you do with it and how you use it that matter. In a previous blog of mine, I state that we need to reshape our morals and how we interact with people. Technology and social media sites have it’s benefits. We can get in contact and keep tabs on anyone we want, if that’s what we choose to do with our time. But in reality, we need to go back to basics.

While schools and businesses are going digital, we also need to start re-teaching people how to interact with one another. Loneliness is something which needs to be identified and recognized, but what happens when you do interact with Facebook and other social mediums and you finally get to the “event”? You find people still locked in on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, texting, blogging, and the list continues. What the article didn’t mention is when people are in group settings and interacting with people face to face, they’re still side tracked with what’s going on in the “other realm” and it needs to stop. Don’t get me wrong, I am far from perfect, but I do make a conscious effort that when I am with someone I try to avoid my phone. It’s rude.

Think about a moment in your life when you were so excited about and event that changed your life and you wanted to tell everyone you knew. Explaining it to them you look for visual eye contact, body language that they’re listening, but then in the climax of your story, they open their text messages and bust out laughing to something a friend said. Really? Loneliness is more than just sitting behind your computer living a life that may seem more exciting and spontaneous than your ACTUAL life. It’s not just driving around in your car alone (I do it all the time, it’s how I process things). Loneliness is a symptom of depression which can worsen from Facebook, but if we need social interaction, we need to change how we interact with the people when we ARE around them.

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4 responses to “social networking… what will we become?

  1. “Until someone receives serious consequences from a post, status, picture, etc, I feel as the realization it will forever be on the internet doesn’t faze them.” This is so true and sad because it will take people their world falling to realize what they are doing.

  2. I think you mention a very good idea when it comes to ‘cleansing yourself’ every now and again. It’s not so much that it’s bad all around to have that connection but that there needs to be a balance just as all things do.

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