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Society

Facebook – How has it changed modern society?

Have you ever wondered how life would be if Facebook and other social networking sites existed a very long time ago? Would the Victorians find it distasteful to share every detail and every thought? It would certainly seem a strange concept to type on a key board and chat to ‘friends’ on a screen. It perhaps is still a strange concept to some.

I do sometimes ponder about this very recent form of communicating. How will we look back on this unique time in our history? Will we be named the sharing addicts? For all the positives (and yes there can be many), it can have just as many negatives if we are not aware of the pitfalls.

After some thought I have comprised a list of the pros and cons of Facebook as I see them. This is my own views. If you have any idea’s please feel free to add your own comments below.
The Pros
  • It is a political tool and platform that can be used to fuel activism. Used in the correct way Facebook can cause major social change, unite passion in people and create positive changes.
  • It’s an efficient, fast, easy and free means of communicating.
  • It cultivates familiarity and can enhance intimacy.
  • It can build pathways between people and ultimately bring the world together.
  • It crosses genders, social classes, generations, social groups, geographies. We are all joined together.
  • If used correctly it can be supportive and positive for human relations.
  • It is fabulous for keeping in touch with friends and family. It makes keeping in touch incredibly easy. In fact it can be safely said there is little excuse to lose touch these days unless you choose to!
Pretty powerful tool huh?
The Cons
  • It’s a little bit lazy. Social graces can be ignored. No need to send a thank you note for that gorgeous wedding gift, I’ll just say a few lines on the friends page!
  • People can stick their beaks in and comment, often saying things they’d never ever say to you face to face. You have to ask yourself, Is it healthy to have our friends scrutinise every action or every thought you share? Is it actually healthy to share every action or every thought?
  • We may be creating a world of exhibitionists or maybe even narcissists, whereby every single teeny tiny detail of their life is discussed at length.
  • It can create a false sense of companionship. Say you have 200 friends. How many of these friends are actually friends? Perhaps 4 or 5 at best could be described as real friends? Should we not be seeing our close friends face to face instead of messaging some guy who we knew briefly 10 years ago and lets be honest we didn’t even like them all that much.
  • You have to be very careful. Only say things that you would be happy to shout out at a party or social gathering.
  • A war of words can happen. Not everyone follows the correct social networking etiquette. People can bully, abuse or insult complete strangers or their very own ‘friend’.
  • Sometimes your light hearted jokes can be twisted and converted into mean spirited jibes. The problem with online is that no one can hear your tone of voice or your body language. 90 per cent of communication is said through the body via eye contact, facial expressions and many others. There are only so many smiley faces, winks and kisses you can type on the screen to convey you are not being aggressive you are simply being humorous. It is all too easy for subtle cues to be missed.
  • A very negative point I touched on but will go over again is the possibility of bullying. This is a very serious issue that can affect many people world wide. The biggest problem being is there is no escape from the bullies. They invade your computer, your home, your private space. This has left some individuals to suicide as a means of escaping.
  • We are social animals. We must be careful not lose our ability to communicate face to face. We have become an incredibly successful species due to our ability to communicate and pick up on very subtle social cue’s. If we lose our ability, do we lose our edge as a species?
Can you tell I am feeling slightly disillusioned by social networking sites of late? For all the positives of bridging people and society there are many negatives. I do think as we move forward we will need to learn how to navigate these sites correctly and responsibly. We are still in the very early stages of this social phenomenon. We are learning all the time. Facebook was designed with the idea of enhancing our relationships with people we already know and love in real life. It was designed to improve our life and make life easier. Let us ensure we play this game how it was intended. I am going to make sure I book some quality time with friends soon to see them in person. The computer will be switched off!
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About Alana Munro

Writer. Mama to three, wife to one. Red wine consumer.

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Facebook – How has it changed modern society?

  1. >Loved reading your excellent article on the pros and cons of facebook. Its so true.

    Posted by Anonymous | December 2, 2010, 8:20 pm
  2. >Thanks for your kind comment! I hope you come back for more soon x

    Posted by Alana | December 6, 2010, 9:52 am

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