Social networking can be defined as a virtual environment in which individuals form groups for a common goal of socializing. Traditionally, social networking is mostly done offline by groups of friends or people sharing a common interest. Technological advances have, however, changed the social networking concept to the point where it mainly implies online social engagement (Baoku 218).
Social network sites on the internet such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube among others are filled with individuals that want to interact. In the contemporary world, disputes and conversations on diverse subjects and ideas are discussed via social network platforms.
The subjects for these conversations range from cooking, employment opportunities and gardening to making new friends, politics and general sharing of information (“The 2014 Survey: The Biggest Internet Impacts by 2025” para. 2). As a rule, the people belonging to the same network share a range of hobbies, not to mention the fact that their lifestyles and standards may match.
A registered member of a particular social network is able to interact freely with other members, as well as read their profiles. The purpose of a social network is solely to provide people with an additional method of communication. Advanced social networking has transformed not only the way, in which humans communicate but also the way, in which people shape their patterns of social interactions.
The rise of Internet sites, such as Facebook, as a tool for social networking, has posed a legitimate threat to the traditional interaction process. As a result, future generation may not understand the need to interact physically. It is evident that most traditional ways of interactions will be completely eclipsed unless the effects of online social networks are reduced.
Social networking has numerous drawbacks that can discourage one from being active in society (Baoku 9). Some of these disadvantages include seclusions, cyberbullying, poor range of methods for expression, and the diminishing sense of human dignity. The main idea behind the creation of social sites like Facebook was to create a wider avenue of communication (Baoku 9).
Teenagers represent over 75% of the users of social media (Boyd and Ellison 224). Their interaction, if not guided and controlled, can turn to be very dangerous. The main agenda of teenagers in social media is to draw the attention of their peers to themselves as opposed to the maturity in reasoning demonstrated by the adults. Teenagers, in their turn, tend to draw the attention of the others to themselves by posting rather explicit pictures.
The commentaries left on the “wall” tend to be rather one-note. Controversial images are used by teenagers in order to provoke the outrage of their peers and, perhaps, stir a “flame” (a heated discussion).
A study commissioned by the Harvard University showed that a great number of teenagers, both girls, and boys, try to gain more followers by depicting themselves as much more outgoing, light-minded and even a bit vulgar than they are in ordinary life (Baoku 8). For example, they post photos showing them drinking, dancing or smoking. It is demeaning to post such photos since it lowers one dignity.
The fact that a majority of users of social media are teenagers has made them a soft target by criminals, as well as to a range of Internet bullies, also known as “trolls.” Teenagers expose themselves to bullying on the web. Online trolling in social networks have turned out to be the worst form of bullying. Bullying is devastating in real life; in the virtual one, it becomes rather bearable, yet very annoying.
Cyber bullying is dangerous because all that is commented on an individual is seen by everyone (“The 2014 Survey: The Biggest Internet Impacts by 2025” para. 1). The worst thing is that there is no one whom a targeted individual can turn for help. Bullies can comfortably hurl their insults without any control from adults or authorities. Cyber bullying is not only devastating but also viral.
It is a very immoral and undignified thing to do, which should be prevented at all costs. Restrictions on social networking can help make interactions in social sites a means of ensuring safe communication.
Frequent use of social networking sites affects the number of physical interactions amongst people directly. People cease live communication since they consider social networking a more effective means of communication. As a result, social networking contributes to the isolation of individuals. In the contemporary world, being socially active does not require much of live interaction.
Conversing is done through computers and the Internet. Language skills and the skills of public speaking are endangered, since live conversation can easily be replaced by social networking.
Engaging in a conversation and a constructive dialogue is becoming difficult due to the fact that social networking has minimized people’s ability of understanding body language Since social networking does not allow for active use of body language in the communication process, with the emphasis being on the verbal communication, the very process of debating and confrontations is filled with obstacles, with the chances of a misconception rising increasingly.
It should also be kept in mind that, apart from the inability to debate adequately, social networks develop a range of other nonetheless significant communication issues in their users. For example, the social network can make one detached from reality completely, since living in a virtual world requires fewer efforts.
Indeed, it is much easier to follow the ideal image of one’s self in the virtual realm, where one’s personality remains concealed and where the responsibility for actions and statements is impressively lesser. Another obvious problem of social networks concerns the increase in the number of people to contact with; as a result, the process of communication devalues.
Regular debates and arguments exchange will be made more difficult due to the inability to understand one another’s body language. Humanity is based on the pillars of socialization and regular interactions; hence, the development of social sites may pose a great danger to the entire world.
Baoku, Li. “E-Marketing on Online Social Networks and Ethical Issues.” International Journal of Online Marketing 2.4 (2012), 1-14. Print.
Boyd, Danah M., and Nicole B. Ellison. “Social Network Sites: Definition, History and Scholarship.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 131.11 (2007), 210-230. Print.
“The 2014 Survey: The Biggest Internet Impacts by 2025.” 2014. ELON University.