Social Networking/Media – Inevitable? Necessary?
I’m a little bit fascinated by the negative press that surround social networking and social media. Maybe I have a distorted view of the “dangers” of all this social-ness because I’ve been an active participant for half my life – even back before the days of the Internet, through online bulletin board style connectors. I was a teenage social networking surfer long before most of society had caught on to the phenomenon and started setting off the warning bells to parents that social networking was the bane of all things good.
So, now that you have a little more of my history, it shouldn’t be a major surprise to you that I roll my eyes a bit at the scare media that loves to frighten the public with tales of social networking horror on the 11:00 news. To me, social networking/media were inevitable and necessary, and here’s why:
- If you can’t trust the news, who can you trust?
Let’s face it. News media these days is generally more about taking a particular side and blasting your opponent, or creating a sensation out of an exception, than it is about anything real. News shows are about ratings. Newspapers are about sales. Trust is for sale to the highest bidder or is at the mercy of the article writer, and you can usually find a dissenting opinion or a conflicting scientific study with 30 seconds worth of Internet research. The beauty of social networking and media is that WE have the ability to quickly and easily say something true to one another. I can’t point you to the mainstream media with any confidence, but I can tell you what I know, and have experienced, and how I’m living – and you can share the same back – and we create something that is REAL. We can bypass the silly money-hungry filters of the media marketplace and put the truth out in an immediate and global fashion (see the Iran election). And sure, some people will still lie, but the truth comes out eventually…and the ridicule of the social web is a pretty good deterrent..
- Privacy is an illusion.
I’m not talking about common sense safety precautions. Don’t tell the world you’re going on a 10-week vacation, have just bought the Hope diamond, and are leaving it on the dining room table. No, I’m talking about our sudden fear that the world might know what you actually think and feel and do. True, people put embarrassing and revealing details about their lives up through social networking. However, if we were doing it in private before and just not telling anyone about it – or worse yet, were actively hiding it – is the problem really social networking, or is the problem within us? Who you are in private is who you are. I say, let the light shine on in. Oh, and if you’re worried about your teenager “liking” something stupid or taking a stupid picture, trust me when I say that the middle managers of tomorrow are going to be their peers, so this whole “oh no, you’re never going to get a job” panic isn’t long-term reality.
- Miles ain’t nothing but a number.
Our historical definitions for community have only been limited by our ability to effectively communicate over long distances. With capable technology and social networking tools, why shouldn’t my community of friends and family extend its borders to a global limit? I got my first birthday greeting this year from the Philippines. I know that there is a general fear that social networking breeds shallow relationships, but as someone who has been building relationships via text for most of my life, I think that criticism is a reflection of having to learn to build relationships in a new way. If you’ve been doing it most of your life, trust me when I say it feels more normal than most normally accepted ways of making connections. And social networking gives greater relationship-building opportunities for personality types that don’t connect to more traditional ways of making friends.
Well, I could write a longer blog, but I want to go check my Facebook. Oh, and Twitter.