Technology is one of the most influential of the profound changes taking place in the twenty-first century. The easy access, use and dissemination of new technologies has increased the importance and benefits of social networking. People are expanding their ability to communicate with other groups more quickly and efficiently. However the use of social networks has changed how people communicate, their ways of conducting relationships, and led in some ways the loss of our privacy.
Neal Gabler’s article “The Social Networks” says “Facebook, in fact, only underscores how much traditional friendship-friendship in which you meet, talk and share – has become an anachronism and how much being “friended” is an ironic term” (par7). Sadly, it is true that people sometimes prefer to have more contact with friends through a social network, calls or texting than to be seen in person. The way people used to have coffee with friends on weekends, meet to chat about an important event that happened or just hang out with an old friend seem to have been lost along with the importance of real friendship.
Now, people have more friends on Facebook that they used to have when social networks were not widespread, and probably they do not know 80% of their Facebook friends. In the article of Ian Daly “Virtual Popularity Isn’t cool-It’s Pathetic”, he writes “Take a good, long look at your friend list and ask yourself how many of these people would meet you for a beer- or how many you would actually want to meet for a beer. And did you really want to reconnect with that awkward kid from boarding school who drew battle-axes on his Trapper Keeper” (par4).
It is clear that if someone looks at their Facebook friend list, he will probably realize that is full of people whom hasn’t seen in months or even in years, and if he wants to reconnect with the so called- friends in person many of them will not even be available. The real term of friendship on Facebook has changed and there is not mystery in relationships because everything is published. It is also true that Facebook helps us to reconnect with family members, and old friends but people are not getting the time to meet in person with the good friends that they used to spend time with.
A few weeks ago I encountered a video that is going around on the social networks, especially on Facebook. In this video random people were invited to have their mind read. A man wearing a white outfit welcomes everyone and starts presenting to different kinds of people private information that they only are aware of it. People that are being interrogated are surprised because this is very personal information that only they should know. Everyone participating in this show is astonished because this man makes them think that he has supernatural powers or he is a magician.
At the end of the conversation he shows his “trick. ” He opens another door and there are computers where he demonstrates that the users of social networks had published all the information that he had gathered and employed in his perfomance. Facebook is the main social network where people publish personal information without controlling their private life. It is a serious issue and people do not realize that they can be easy victims of identification theft. There are many cases where people steal pictures from other users and create a fake profile pretending that they are real.
People accept this user believing that they have added an old friend in their Facebook but they do not have any way to find out that the friend could be part of a fake profile. Personally, I have a Facebook account where all my pictures, information and email are private. I share some of my pictures with my family because they live far away and I want to show them some of the important moments in my life. A few years ago I had to change my name on my profile because there was a man who followed me to school, home and he was calling me, I had to delete my account and take out a restraining order so he could not get near me.
After this, I had to be more careful with the information I shared and learn that I could not trust in these social networks. The article “Students are Addicted to Social Media” written by International Center for Media and the Public Agenda describes a study done with two hundred students who were barred from using any technological devices for 24 hours. In this article they expressed that “We were surprised by how many students admitted that they were incredibly addicted to media” (pag4).
These days it is common to find people who are attached to their cell phones, computers or ipads because everything is easily accessible and people can connect their devices anywhere they go. It does seem true that students are the ones who have more problems getting rid of their attachment; students are frequently checking their email, facebook status and uploading pictures to their social networks. People have difficulties unplugging themselves when they are having a conversation or a meal. It is an addiction and some people cannot control it. Unconnected, they feel like something is missing and it is hard to let it go.
In one of the famous quotes of Albert Einstein, he says “I fear the day when the technology overlaps with our humanity. The world will only have a generation of idiots. ” I agree with this quote. In restaurants I see people using their cell phones without paying attention to or sharing quality time with others. Unfortunately it is a common occurrence that is happening everywhere and people act like zombies when they are with their devices. Technology has become a barrier for relationships; there is no time to meet with your friends, privacy is gone and the worst is that it has become an addiction.
In short, social networks do help to shrink distances, reconnect with old friends and relatives. But what is better than go to a friend’s house, meet for coffee, have quality time with your partner, or even better, disconnect from devices while you are together. Important moments in life are the ones that people share in person and are paying attention to the others one hundred percent. Social networking sites are a good resource to bring those people who are far away closer, but let’s remember not to fall into the trap of “alienating” those who are nearby.