There is a knock on your front
door. You open it and a stranger walks in uninvited saying ‘You don’t know who
I am’ (Social Networking). A scary thought to ponder on considering that, on a
daily basis, we open the window to our lives for everyone to peep into our
private world. Would you let an unknown person to walk uninvited into your
house? The answer is probably no. So why do we allow our personal information
to become a free for all and sundry?
There is more to just being less
careful with our personal information. Our methods of social interaction have
changed over the years. The slogan ‘it’s good to talk’ has become ‘it’s good to
text’. In 2011, the BBC reported that 58% of people used texting as their main
form of their daily communication, compared to only 47% who made a daily mobile
call (BBC News, 2012). Moreover, this transformation in the way we interact has
affected the way we write. Words such as through are now commonly spelt as
thru. Even the more mature in age, who initially appeared baffled with the newly
discovered text language, are now using it on sites that impose word limits.
These linguistic adjustments are an indication that the impact social network
sites are having is very powerful. They have bridged the generation gap and
even traversed cultural divides, by creating a common platform for exchange of
information. In other words, we are adapting quickly to the new ways of social
interaction that have imperceptibly crept into our daily lives.
Consequently, this phenomenon is
having us spending more and more time reading our online friends posts, and
updating our status. Moreover, it is said that those who refuse to participate
in social networks such as Facebook and Twitter could find themselves
marginalised (Hough, A., Williams, C., 2013). This constant pressure to keep
feeding our virtual world with our thoughts and movements creates an illusion
of friendship. The more friends we have the more popular we feel. In turn, this
puts us under more pressure to spend even more time on the social networks to
increase the number of our followers. Holiday albums, family celebrations,
personal events are now more public than they have ever been. Maybe we are
hoping that everyone else will rejoice with us; even accept us more. Perhaps we
expect to be told that our semi-naked physique at the beach is godly. On the
other hand, we may wish to spite our ex. One way or another it appears that
social networks have become a communication necessity rather than a luxury
item, with people pouring their lives out on them.
It logically follows that social
networking is becoming necessary if we are to be accepted in today’s fast
developing technological world. This rapid advancement is availing us to a
plethora of information. How do we know what is true and what is not? Scepticism
plays an important role in protecting us. It will help us avoid becoming a
victim of cybercrime. ‘When you see a post come up on Facebook that seems
incredible, always think before you click’ (Social Networking). Equally, we
need to apply the same principle of thinking before we post any information
about us. Do we really want everyone to know that our home will be empty for
two weeks, whilst we are on holiday? Childline advises to avoid giving away too
much about ourselves, be aware of people who might operate under false
identities, and be sceptical of the identity of the person with whom we are
chatting. We, as adults, may also benefit from these useful guidelines. It is
worth bearing in mind that there are persons who will benefit from disinformation.
Remain sceptical, and question the motive behind the writer. Furthermore,
change the security settings on your profile, so it can only be seen by people
that have your permission. Always choose you virtual friends carefully. Why
would someone purporting to live across the other side of the world suddenly
want to be my friend? What is their motive?
Sometimes their desires are clear.
They want our hard-earned cash. There are a number of virtual worlds, where
various games of chance can be played. Card games, roulette tables are all
portrayed as a glamorous and alluring activity. Players are novel-fashioned stereotyped
with sexy women and potent men interacting in an erotic atmosphere of financial
success. They fuel our need for escapism and hedonism by offering us a
pseudo-world of make-believe existence. The reality is quite different. The
keyboard controls us in the shape of an avatar. We are but a mere convergence
of pixels displayed on a two-dimensional monitor. It can be an expensive
pleasure in a non-existent world. When the computer is off, we are more alone
than before; and probably less well off.
In conclusion, social networks are
having a powerful impact on the way we interact. By their creating a level
communication platform, they have bridged the generation gap and broken down
cultural barriers. We have no option but to adapt to these modern ways of
social interaction, or face possible marginalisation. Even our language is
changing to meet the demands placed upon of us from the rapid technological
developments that are indiscernibly creping daily into our lives. Are we
allowing too much of our personal information to become public knowledge?
Remain sceptical of the identity of the person with whom you are chatting, and
be aware of people whose identity you cannot verify. In other words, do not
forget that there are people who benefit from misusing our personal
information. Therefore, ensure that you question the motive of those who are
not your true friends, and personalise the security settings on your profile,
so that it can only be seen by those who have your permission. The reality of
friendship is quite different in a two-dimensional world where we only exist as
an avatar controlled by a keyboard. In this technological universe, our life is
a mere group of pixels that ends when the computer is off; launching us back to
our daily grind from where we besought escapism in the first place. The circle
can be vicious, and we have to guard against falling victim to its alluring. In
other words, beware of becoming a perpetual victim of the social network
addiction. It appears, nevertheless, that social networks have become a modern
necessity rather than a luxury item. In accepting that they are here to stay,
we need to embrace their potential whilst protecting ourselves from their
What experiences have you had with social networking?
Where they good or bad?