Is Social Media Really Social?
I can easily say that I consider myself to be a very computer savvy individual and capable of doing many things that others whom were left behind by the technological era are not capable of doing or don’t know how to, nor even care to learn how to do these things. I have been working as a communications network administrator for 14 years and I have seen some part of the technological evolution that has taken place within computing since the late 1990’s era when I was first introduced to the Cyber-World.
Well at least I thought I was until I began this class. Within the last semester I have learned quite a lot of how social media works and how it can be used to positively influence others. However there are many aspects of social media that are not such positive influences and personally I consider them to be negative influences on individuals and society in general. Please keep in mind as you read this report that I am clearly expressing my personal opinion on these social media platforms that are available to date. Also I do understand that there are many more social media platforms but I will only be discussing two platforms.
There is a plethora of social media platforms that have now emerged and are such a huge hit within today’s society. These platforms allow people to extend their relationships regardless of whether these relationships are either virtual or real, instantly. People that were used to taking a photo, downloading the photo from their camera to their personal computer, and finally then emailing their photos are now able to send these photos right from their smart-phones to any of these social media sites. This has now allowed individuals to have instant access to post anything anywhere.
I have always been a huge critic of these social media platforms as I am not a believer of how these platforms share and expose one’s information on the web. The idea of being able to share information instantly with an infinite number of people is a great idea, which may have a huge instant impact. However is this necessarily a good thing for us to be able to do?
I have also always been a firm believer that if someone that is out there has not kept in contact with me for a given number of years, maybe that someone really isn’t that important to me or vice versa. Also, I am a firm believer that if there is someone out there that really wants to get a hold of me, somehow or someway they will find a way to get a hold of me.
Maybe the reason why I am not a real believer of these social media applications was due to the fact that I did not know how these platforms worked. Maybe it was because I did not have these available to me when I was first introduced to the World Wide Web. Or maybe it was because I never saw the need to express my feelings instantly with an unknown number of people that have access to what I post on the web.
During the early stages of the Facebook boom in the year 2006, I saw how most of my colleagues and friends where beginning their new life as part of the Facebook domain. I was amazed at how easy it was to share photos with all of those considered being your friends and those that were your friends--- friends and virtually creating an unprecedented amount of friends that one probably did not personally know nor was ever going to meet.
I embarked myself on the odyssey of creating a Facebook account so that I wouldn’t be left behind all of my friends who were doing it. I created my profile and uploaded a couple of pictures of things and places that I visited which I thought were fun and interesting. I saw how others began asking to be my friend and how they started to like the pictures that I posted. I then continued to look at my friends’ profiles and I began to see how some of my friends had friend lists that were well into the hundreds if not the thousands.
I began to realize that there was no way that my friends could possibly have this many friends; this possibly could not be true. There was no way one could really have all these so-called friends. I also though that there was just no way that I was going to keep up to date with having that many friends nor was I interested in having so many friends to keep track of. Not to mention the various locations that these so called friends were located. Interestingly some of these so-called friends were as far as Asia, Africa and Europe.
I also found some aspects of Facebook to be very unsafe. Or maybe from my perspective was it that people were beginning to be careless and unsafe by posting all of their daily doings on this social media network? Here are some of the most shocking messages that I clearly remember:
“I am going to the gym, hope it is a great workout”
“I will be going to Europe for 2 weeks, can’t wait”
“Don’t know what to pack”
“Planning on cutting my hair, what should I do”?
I thought to my self really? Is this what Facebook is for? Needless to say my Facebook account was soon closed. My Facebook account lasted me a whole 15 days. I thought to myself, there is just no way that I can post such messages as the aforementioned messages on my Facebook account. Here are a few examples as well as some of the reasons why I strongly disagree with posting such comments on a social media platform.
First if I am going to the gym I really don’t need to tell others what I hope to get out of going to the gym. It should be understood that I am going to the gym to workout period. Isn’t this the main reason why fitness facilities and gyms are now in business? Having to tell others what the reason is behind me going to the gym really is beyond me.
Second, why would we want to expose ourselves to the danger of telling our so-called “friends” that we are going to Europe for 2 weeks or any predetermined number of time? This is not only exposing the individual posting this kind of comment to danger but it is also exposing the individual’s belongings to those that really don’t need to know that his or her house or apartment are going to be vacant for such a long period of time.
We need to be a little more concerned with what it is that we want the receiver to know about our daily life. Once we post these kinds of comments on any social media platform, we need to understand that they can be visible by an infinite number of people.
Third, if an individual posts a message such as “Don’t know what to pack” this individual clearly wants the attention of others or someone else to respond to that message by either saying “where are you going” or “how long are you going for”. Either way the individual clearly wants to let the world know what their intentions are.
Here again we are not being mindful of what kind of sensitive information we are allowing the world to see and find out about us. We may not think that something as simple as letting others know that we are traveling could be thought of as being sensitive but if we look outside the box and really think about it, it really is sensitive information that should only be on a need to know basis and not be publicly shared like some are doing.
Lastly, if an individual needs to have the input of others on how they should cut their hair it is beyond me to understand. Not that others are really going to be in your shoes when the haircut that they recommend for you looks truly horrible on you and it is too late to go back and fix it. But yet they are very quick to offer some advice.
Human nature allows us to say things when we are hidden. It gives us a piece of security but this “false” security brings upon bullying which is a huge problem for children and even adults, especially when adults bully children online.
To me it seems like those on this network have began loosing their true identity. Unfortunately since I closed my account within a month of opening it I don’t have the names of the individuals from whom I took these quotes so that I could attach a name to each one of these wonderful quotes. I do have them in the back of my mind because they struck me very hard as I really tried finding a positive point to these comments.
Needless to say, these quotes are more than clear examples on how individuals are allowing social media to be such a huge player in their daily activities as well as the options they choose to follow. This not only holds true for individuals but for companies as well. With the launch of the new IPhone 5, on September 21, 2012 Apple Inc. has made it clear how important it is for the company to be competitive in today’s market.
Along with the reveal of the new IPhone 5, Apple has unveiled its new operating system, called IOS 6. Apple claims “IOS 6 is the most advanced operating system in the world”. (1) Apple also claims that there are over 200 new changes to their operating system, which was released to the public on September 12, 2012. Part of their update to their existing IOS was the seamless integration of some of the most popular social media applications as part of their operating system. These applications are Facebook and Twitter.
Users no longer have to download neither the Facebook application nor the Twitter application, as these are now standard applications built in to the phone from the manufacturer. These new changes clearly show how manufacturers are now customizing their products to appeal to a broader audience as this allows users to quickly setup their social media profiles without having to first download and install the applications.
Here are four screen shots taken from both the apple.com website as well as my personal IPhone to show how the features are built into the phone. The first picture you can see that apple shows users how easy it is to post and share information on Facebook. As you can see from this picture Apple states “Now it is easier than ever to interact with the world’s largest social network”. (1)
Apple is also claiming that “You need to sign in to Facebook only once, and you’ll be off to sharing. Never miss another birthday or get-together, since Facebook events are integrated into Calendar. And your Facebook friends’ profile information is integrated into Contacts, so when they update an email address or phone number you automatically stay up to date”. (2) Again a clear example of how manufacturers want to make their targeted audiences believe the importance of having these social media platform control their activities and track their events. We need to really put an emphasis on what information we really want to share with the outside world.
When is too much information too much? Information overload can potentially cause individuals, as well as organizations to regress if the processed data is not used properly. This is huge negative for the “real” social aspect of people.
The following three pictures are taken directly from my IPhone. On the first picture you can see how Twitter and Facebook are now built directly into the IOS settings menu. The second and third screen shots shows where the individual user will provide his or her credentials for their social media account within the system preferences settings.
It may seem as though I have gotten sort of caught up on the Facebook topic; however do keep in mind that lots of these same activities also go on with many of the other social media platforms. Lets now take for example Twitter, another social media platform that is very popular with today’s Cyber world.
Here are some screenshots of what Twitter is and how Twitter should be used that I have gotten directly from the Twitter.com website. (3)
If only Twitter was used the way in which Jack Dorsey, the inventor of Twitter meant it to be used, it would be a very useful and powerful tool. Since I don’t have a Twitter account, I asked a friend of mine to allow me to use his account to continue my research for this document. Twitter only allows for one to do a search by login into their system. I needed a quick lesson on how to conduct a search on Twitter since there are different ways to search.
Once I logged into the Twitter page, I did a simple search on sex, which is a simple three-letter word that anyone could search for independent of the age of the individual. I was shocked to find what I found on Twitter. The #’s are groups that individuals can post to with a common theme.
I found groups ranging from #tittuesday, #asswednesday, #thongthursday, #sexy, #nothongthursday #sinfulsunday. I could go on and fill the whole paragraph with the amount of groups that I found containing xxx-rated pictures of individuals wanting to share via their Twitter accounts. How can we possibly control what these individuals are posting? How can we control that children aren’t being posted on these websites? This is extremely difficult to control.
Again here is where I have a huge problem with these social media platforms. I can assure you that this was not the reason why Twitter was created. This is what Twitter has to say about what Twitter is “ Twitter is a real time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news that you find interesting. Simply find the accounts you find most compelling and follow these conversations” (4)
I remember the late 1980’s and the early 1990’s when the area around the Port Authority terminal was infested with XXX shops full of pornography and adult content. It was sad that such a popular tourist destination was off-limits to most that had underage kids. I remember my parents telling me to duck down in the car whenever we drove past this area. I was not allowed to even look at what was around me whenever we drove past this area. I never understood why they were making me look another way.
Now it seems that we have to tell our children not to have any Twitter nor Facebook accounts since they are going to be exposed to these same type of adult material with the only difference being that these are now all virtual whereas in the early days it was all real life scenes.
Seems that in order for any group to have many thousand of followers some kind of skin has to be exposed, irrelevant of it being from males or from female exhibitionists. Needless to say the number of groups following the aforementioned #’s is well into the tens of thousands if not the hundreds of thousands as I found in one of these groups.
There is really something wrong with how people are using these types of social media platforms. Many of those whom are deeply involved in the so called cyber-world have done so because we believe we have control of what we do and how we do it in this so called cyber world.
Some people have even lived fantasies that they would not be able to in their "REAL" life. There is no better example then the one stated in chapter 2 from the book Communication and Cyberspace, "These technologies then enable us to experience control ("cyber") as a projection of self out of our center, from our wills, into something else. That something else, that field of activity, is space. It is real because it is independent of us, but paradoxically more real because it also responds to us." (5) What seems more and more outrageous is the fact that people believe more and more on their cyber-life and the outcomes of it.
SimCity (6) is another example of how people believe more and more on what goes on in these virtual worlds? SimCity is a game where people are able to create their own virtual world by building and controlling this new empire, which they have created.
Now how awkward is it to create and rule an empire that can either be controlled by one or by a computer program with its predetermined settings that will determine the outcome of the game? If you asked for my opinion I would consider this to be very awkward.
I can’t count how many times I have watched fellow students play Simcity during an entire class period, which is easily close to 2 and ½ hours. I have also seen quite a number of co-workers play this game for an entire workday, which is at least 7 hours. There must be something behind these games that I have yet to understand and I hope to do so very soon. I may be missing out on something very important and I would rather not be left out.
As a final note to my document, I would like to leave you with a quote that I found online, in regards to Social Media. I found these short 21 words to express exactly how I feel about Social Media. I found it very interesting and I don’t feel quite as bad knowing that there are others out there who also share a similar belief as I do when it comes to Social Media.
I do understand that the quote I found is indeed in Spanish, but I really wanted to share this with all of you. I asked a certified professor and translator from Montclair State University to translate it for me and here I share it with all of you.
“Twitter makes you think you are wise,
Instagram makes you think you are a photographer,
and Facebook makes you think you have friends.
Waking up is going to be hard.”
Works Cited Page
(5) Communication and cyberspace: social interaction in an electronic environment
Lance Strate - Ronald L.Jacobson - Stephanie B.Gibson - Hampton Press – 2003