Social media has created our fast-paced society that we are in today. It has dramatically changed the standards that are expected of anyone who considers themselves a “normal” person in our society. It’s now expected of us to know that one of our friends may be upset because of a hint in their Facebook status or even to find out about an earthquake on Twitter faster than the seismic waves are traveling (see: News of earthquake travels faster on Twitter than shock waves travel through rock). I believe that it has de-formalized our normal behaviors in that there are not many boundaries like there used to be as far as no disturbances in restaurants, classes, religious ceremonies, or other places of “respect.” If you turn off the lights in a lecture hall, you will probably see a majority of laptop screens with Facebook displayed. Just how talking on a phone in a restaurant is considered rude, posting Facebook pictures of your date while they’re trying to eat is not necessarily frowned upon. In the last ten years, social media has created a necessity out of something that didn’t exist back then. Even our SUNY alert system, uses email, phone, and texts to alert students within minutes of any event of concern on campus, but this only started during my freshman year and before that people were still able to react to emergencies quickly and appropriately. With new social media companies sprouting up all the time, there are not many parts of our lives that will be immune to its trends.
Social networking has always been a fundamental part of human nature. Let’s face it, everyone wants to have attention on them when it’s in their favor to do so. Whether this may be having a lot of friends or being the first to know that your best friend is now engaged, (most) people thrive on social inclusion. Now with the advent of (online) social networking, our social behaviors have dramatically changed. I can remember back to elementary school when I would hear someone boasting about how they were able to count off thirty friends that they have. Now, a Facebook user with thirty friends is almost considered to have a “ghost” profile, or, not even enough friends to constitute a “average” user. There is always going to be a debate, depending on the person, as to what constitutes a friendship between two people. Before Facebook, in order to befriend someone, you would need to have a physical conversation with them and have a mutual respect that you, at minimum, would want to associate with this person in the future. Unfortunately, “friending” someone on Facebook only requires someone to know their name or possibly even just what they look like and with a few clicks a new friend is made, on Facebook of course. This now requires us to sometimes distinguish our “real” friends and “Facebook” friends mainly by if we have even met a “Facebook friend” in person before. I have heard of some people that for some inexplicable reason, will request a Facebook friendship with a person they’ve never talked to nor know their name but have just exchanged a few glances at a party or on campus.
Speaking from a college student, Information Science major prospective, social media to me has integrated into my life almost naturally. I can understand why the “older” crowd has been hesitant about making their social life public. My team and I discussed how everyone undoubtedly has a different persona depending on their surroundings. Unfortunately, this becomes an issue with social media when your friend list consists of your friends, family, and professional contacts that can all possibly the same content, such as, a embarrassing picture you were tagged in by your friend or see your status about how much your boss sucks. With social media though, we give up a certain amount of control to Facebook or Twitter or even our friends and even though we all may have trust in the distribution and storage of our information, the whole concept of social media allowing everyone to be open and transparent requires us to make sacrifices.
B.A Information Science
Web Developer Intern