There should be no doubt that Social Media, meaning websites such as Facebook, MySpace, Friendster,LinkedIn etc., play a very large role in changing the way people communicate these days. Millions of people all over the world, are meeting and having online discussions with people they would never have known existed before these sites did. It seems the possibilities to advance communication are endless.
Personally, I am still dubious about sharing very much on these sites. The only two that I have signed up with are Facebook and LinkedIn, and I don’t visit either one very much, except to check in once and a while to see if I’ve been left a message. But then again, I think I’m a little older than most people who use these sites are on a regular basis, and I admit I’m a little intimidated by the whole phenomenon.
To know that dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of people could be reading what I’m typing while I’m having a conversation with one of my online friends, who really aren’t friends at all in the traditional sense, or with a family member, is I think, a little scary. I’m very careful of everything I write on those message boards for that reason, I don’t want some stranger to read what I have typed to my daughter for example.
I’m pretty sure there are ways to protect one’s privacy when using these sites, but I will admit I know little about how to do that, and I suspect there are a lot of other people who don’t either. But it just feels like a million eyes are watching me when I do post a sentence or two on the occasions when I log in at all, and that bugs me. I also don’t like the fact that advertisers can target in on me based on websites I visit or games I may play. It’s just so Orson Welles-ian. Eyes Everywhere. Maybe I’m just paranoid.
While I can appreciate the love that so many seem to have to these sites, and the way it can empower people to express their views to a large audience-instantly-I do feel that we are losing an awful lot of the personal touch that old fashioned email and actual verbal conversation using a–gasp–telephone provide. I still hate texting, and only use it to answer a message, and unless it’s an emergency, never to initiate contact with someone I know. I find it impersonal, and even a bit rude.
I just saw a perfect example of this yesterday, when my wife received texts to congratulate her on her birthday. I know it bothered her a lot when family used this approach as well as some who used Facebook. I know her well enough by now to know she would never even consider reducing human interaction to typed words on an important day with anyone she cares about, and she does use social media sites quite a bit herself. I suspect she is afraid of being kept out of the loop if she didn’t use it.
It’s just not the same thing as hearing someone’s voice. Now something like an I-Pad (no, I just have an old dumb cell phone) that allows for a video conference is something I could appreciate. That would actually bring people closer I think, unlike the faceless, voiceless typed words on a cell phone. Sure, we’re all busy, we always have been, but there should always be time to reach out and touch someone you love, in my humble opinion at least. Some things are just better the old fashioned way.
Social media is a medium that has gone from strength to strength since its inception, rendering print and electronic media a thing of the past with its wider outreach of the masses and has proven to be a rage amongst youngsters. This is the age of shares and likes with people becoming hungry for them but no one can just buy instagram likes so as to prove their mettle.