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By Kristen Wagner
Social networking seems to be reaching epidemic proportions. Sometimes we read “tweets” and Facebook “status updates” more than we do our own homework. Why would we care more about our friend’s friend’s friend who is brushing her teeth at exactly 8:07 in the morning, rather than updating ourselves on the latest current events or going outside to squeeze in a 30 minute jog? All of this seems kind of mind-numbing at times.
An article was posted on newsbusters.org by Noel Sheppard, who believes that social networking sites will destroy society. He argues that typing still leaves something out, and it “lacks the nuances that can be expressed by body language and voice inflection.”
“Amidst all this heightened chatter, we’re not saying much that’s interesting, folks,” Sheppard said. “Rather, we’re breaking a cardinal rule of companionship: Thou Shalt Not Bore Thy Friends.”
Maybe we’re boring our friends, but according to ProCon.org, “Social networking and blogging sites accounted for 17% (about one in every six minutes) of all time spent on the internet in August 2009, nearly three times as much as in 2008.”
Is this good for society, or is it rather a destruction of all of our creative attributes and our personal private lives? There seems to be debate on both sides of the spectrum.
ProCon.org states that phishing, the fraudulent act of attempting to attain personal information for identity theft, has increased by 240% on social networking sites between 2008 and 2009. Businesses are in fear of the endangerment of corporate security. Children can be more easily exposed to predators because of the extensive use of social networking tools. Computers are more susceptible to viruses. Worker productivity has been steadily decreasing. Short attention spans are cumulating. Socialization face-to-face is decreasing, and people are spending less time together.
In addition to these striking cons of social networking, the social networking sites can’t verify that people are who they say they are. Many people hide their true identities and pretend to be someone that they aren’t. According to ProCon.org, in February of 2009 MySpace identified 90,000 registered sex offenders with profiles on their site. Although social networking sites can remove the sex offenders, there is no way to completely eliminate or identify all of them, and even the ones that are deleted can make new accounts.
Can the benefits of social networking possibly outweigh these dangers?
There are scores of positive features related to social networking. Social networking endorses more communication between friends and family that are far apart. New relationships can bloom, and all of the increased communication reinforces relationships.
According to an article on socialnetworking.lovetoknow.com, social networking helps society collaborate in the sense that researchers and scientists can communicate very easily around the world, and teachers can use social networks to augment courses and class work. People are also able to find others with common interests to their own. Many people who have difficulty communicating in person are much more comfortable communicating through the internet. New and different cultures, ideas, and values can be exchanged and the world can join hands and share their experiences with those who would have never imagined such things could ever happen around the world.
The growth of social networking has also familiarized many people with important computer skills, and it’s connected millions of people to new jobs, new places to live, new cars, and so on. Internet users tend to have larger social networks than non-users. Businesses and companies are starting to rely on social networking sites as part of their “interviewing” process. Younger people who have all of these computer skills are being relied on to keep companies up-to-date and prospering.
It seems as if in society today social networking is completely obligatory. Not only do most workplaces require social networking and computer skills, but they also rely on social networking sites to help themselves grow. By working to connect people to friends, family, jobs, and so on, social networking seems to make life easier and more enjoyable for people worldwide. Maybe the downfalls of social networking can be overcome in the long run, and hopefully the dangers can be depleted. But even with those threats, social media will continue to grow at a magnificent rate.