Facebook, Twitter, Texting: The Impact of Social Networking
The Impact of Social Media
Do you feel like facebook and twitter are invading your life or adding to it? Is their presence forcing changes in how you go about your everyday activities or is it making or opening up new opportunities? Another simple question: Is it making you happier?
Social media has an impact on one's personal and family life. It can also affect one's behavior. The extent of the impact depends on each individual, but it goes without saying that its worldwide reach has a significant local and worldwide impacts. Communication between isolated groups has been made much easier and even the overthrow of abusive governments in the Middle East have been aided by social media applications.
Social interaction via texting has also become more than a local phenomenon since the advent of such services such as cross-platform applications like Skype and WhatsApp. Wherever there is a 3g signal in the world, cell phone users can receive and send messages quickly.
The Negative Impact of Social Networking
Many engage in social networking on the job, which has led to its recent name "Social Not-working" in an article published by Tim Jarvis. This article points out that an addiction to social media may be indicated if we are over-reliant on connecting with people with who we have weak bonds, as opposed to those with whom we interact in our everyday lives. And, if we are taking attention away from our jobs at work, we aren't doing ourselves or our companies any favor.
Constant streams of information like Twitter and Facebook also pose another problem to one's emotional development and maturation, according to one study from the University of Southern California. This study monitored the development and expression of admiration and compassion in response to persuasive, actual-life stories in volunteers. Brain imaging was used to verify the responses. The authors of this study argue that a constant barrage of information trains us to ordinary information processing skills, but it takes away from the time required to experience and process more mature emotions.
The impact of social media on teens is an area of concern for parents. The American Academy of Pediatrics has advised that parents should observe whether their children are spending too much time on the Internet and know what sites they are visiting. "At risk" teens include those with depression or anxiety, those who are socially isolated or have poor social interaction skills. The following YouTube video report addresses this concern:
Social Media Addiction
A 2010 study by the University of Maryland reported that most college students, when exposed to a 24-hour period of abstinence, admit that they are addicted to social media. They see it as a primary method of connecting with friends and family, even when they live or work nearby. Feelings of restlessness, anxiety and sometimes boredom become prominent emotions. These stem from feeling disconnected from an instantaneous flow of information about all things related to friends, family and world news. But if this type of behavior is taking over your life, see further treatment of this in the video below.
Social Media and Internet Addiction Symptoms
Concern About Social Media and "At Risk" Teens
Who Do I Interact with on Facebook and Twitter?
Most of my contacts on facebook, twitter, etc are not people with whom I have any personal contact. This does not mean to say that there are not meaningful exchanges, but this external virtual reality does make a schism between who I am on the computer vs. when I get up and interact with my family and members of my community.
I believe my experience does not differ significantly from many others who work on the web with regularity. Investment of a significant amount of time on the web, while it does represent a form of real interaction, does not substitute for interpersonal interactions with one's family or community.
I am not a fan of texting and I do believe that heavy reliance on this form of communication can have the same negative impacts on one's family and community. I do short messages when necessary, but not a constant stream as I see some do, ignoring everything else around them. Messaging someone can be a quick way to get someone information when they are busy with other tasks.
Philosophical Thoughts on Social Media
It all boils down to what one thinks is important. Perhaps the "weak relationships" of social media contacts are more important to you than your immediate world. In abusive or stifling relationships, that is understandable. Perhaps you can cultivate some strong relationships from these connections and find support for developing healthy relationships.
Social media is most importantly a tool. It helps us discover new things through other people. For web authors, It helps one get recognition for one's work on the web and it provides ways of interacting with people of similar interest.
But much of what happens on the Internet social media and with those addicted to texting is about whatever diminutive foolishness that is passing through one's head at any particular moment. This takes away from one's presence in real life and one's interaction with their immediate environment. Presence and engagement in one's life arguably makes life more of an adventure and worth living.
People Make Different Networking Choices
Some people find that, instead of using social networks like Facebook, they have other ways to interact with people in their social circles. In a recent article on Yahoo! News, several professional people who also are computer literate said that they have many other avenues to keep in touch with friends, like email, telephone messages and phone calls. Activity on Facebook is not considered as an essential aspect of their lives, and in many cases, their social networking is more personal and targeted.
I remember meeting several people who wanted to tell me their whole life story. This seems to be the case of many people who join the Internet social networks. And there are also people that post endlessly, tooting their own horns. Some people find this annoying and prefer their privacy, limiting their participation or not participating at all in the banter. According to the article cited above, women are more likely to cite privacy issues as a barrier to their use of Facebook.
Another person in this article finds that his coworkers in an English program in Spain often spend their breaks checking out Facebook. In contrast he prefers to interact with other people around to learn more about the culture and the language. I suppose it is all about priorities, but in this case, I am with this guy - why not take advantage of being in a new environment and learning more about it?