Our Social Media Based Society

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.

Michael Croatto
B.A Information Science
Web Developer Intern

3 thoughts on “Our Social Media Based Society

  1. I really like the point that you brought up about users having both ‘real friends’, and ‘Facebook friends.’ I just heard an announcement on the radio today at work concerning a study about the amount of friends an average individual has a certain points in their life, and the numbers were really surprising.I couldn’t find the exacct numbers online, but I remember them being something along these lines:- 80+ friends at the age of 21- 50-60 something friends in their mid-to-late 30’s- 40 or so friends in their mid-to-late 40’s- and, less than 40 friends in their 50’sHowever, no matter the age of the individuals, the average person had 250-260 ‘Facebook friends.’ This, I feel, proves that friendships are taken for granted these days, and that many individuals fail to see the difference between a friend and an acquaintance.We all still have our smaller, inner-circle of friends, but the ability to distinguish who we know and who we truly have relationships with is diminishing.

  2. Mike makes a couple of interesting points about most individuals thrive on social inclusion and about distinguishing ???real??? friends and ???Facebook??? friends. It is true that in the web 2.0 Generation Y, being the first person to know some privilege information while simultaneously having to permission and ability to post or distribute that information via the internet makes one feel essential. In this day and age many people thrive on the probability of gaining five minutes of fame via the internet. Living life through a webcam is the norm for some and while social media attracts all categories of people with various motives for using it, social networking site have become a haven for self-promoting narcissist, and attention seekers. So I agree with Mike that ???our social behaviors have dramatically changed. ???On another note, while I agree that we must distinguish between our real friends and Facebook friends and it is true that face-to-face communications have decreased; social networking sites such as Facebook have increased interactions with friends and family by 53% and increased their participation in social activities by 26%. Participation is beneficial to an individual???s self-esteem and mental health. It also is a great way for those who are shy and reclusive to form connections. . (see: ???The Social and Psychological Impact of Online Social Networking APS National Psychology Week Survey 2010??? http://www.psychology.org.au/Assets/Files/Social-and-Psychological-Impact-of-Social-Networking-Sites.pdf ). In conclusion, Mike???s blog was well thought out. I enjoyed reading his post. He introduced a few different concepts that is worthy of consideration. I believe there are pros and cons of social media in general. For now the benefit appears to outweigh the risk for some of us. As he duly noted, social media ???requires us to make sacrifices.???

  3. The fact is that there people who use Social Media too much of the time. Where do we draw the line? When is enough, enough? Can’t we go to a religious ceremony, a funeral, a wedding without "needing" to check our smart phones? I am all for social media, but I have to say that there are times when I feel that it is getting a bit out of hand. There are times when you want to have some privacy and not have to listen to other people’s mundane conversations. A friend of our family was gravely ill and in ICU, after having had a cardiac arrest and the nurse taking care of him was actually answering her cell phone and giving instructions to her babysitter, while at his bedside! This is just one example of social media being over-used or used inappropriately. A situation like this turns people away from social media, people then focus on the negative aspects instead of favoring it and desiring to become part of the movement, if you will. They rant against it because of the rudeness of the user, the untimely use of device and TMI, (too much information) being shared to those around the user, who needs it? Perhaps constructing some boundaries around social media use is not such a bad idea; at least it’s something I think we should consider.

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