Facebook Me: Twenty-First Century Communication

Posted: January 10, 2015 in Essays
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A/N: Essay written for; WEB101 Web Communication.  Received a Pass.


Social Media has done amazing things for society.  It has allowed us ease of communication with friends, family and like-minded people who live all over the world.  We see an increase in the ability to collaborate; people use social media for rallies, charity events, even for cruises with the local car club.  These are amazing positives we see in the way we communicate with each other.  Web 2.0 has given us these positives along with some unfortunate negatives.  Social media sees an increase in cyber bullying, trolling and predators.  However the good does outweigh the bad as while people use places like Facebook and Twitter to attack and belittle people we also see them brought to justice by the authorities through the use of the same social media outlets.  This essay will analyse these points in detail to show the way Web 2.0 has changed the way society communicates and collaborates through the use of social media.

Social media has opened up a world of extended communication; people with access to the Internet can now communicate with friends and family anytime of the day or night.  It also connects us with like-minded people who are halfway across the world.   Social media allows us to form close connections with people we have never met, who live continents away from us, those of whom previously we would never have been able to interact with.  Social media has taken the world by storm; it has been widely adopted by many as a form of communication with the people in their lives (boyd & Ellison, 2007).  Facebook, in particular, has given us the option to ‘connect’ and ‘share’ with ‘the people in our lives’ (Facebook, 2015).  This social media platform combined with the use of smartphones allows us to communicate with each other whenever and wherever is convenient.  With the use of delayed communication, meaning simply, the ability to leave information, or ‘comments or posts’ as this communication is called frequently on Facebook, for others to see when it is convenient for them (Greenhill, 2013), allows us to breech the barriers of time zones, allowing us to communicate with virtually anyone in the world.

Facebook and other social media platforms can also allow us to collaborate with many other people.  The use of social media in the 2011 Egyptian revolution is one of the most highly discussed forms of online collaboration to date.  The video posted to YouTube by Asmaa Mahfouz in January of 2011 sparked a fire in the Egyptian people encouraging them to take a stand against government corruption (Barrons, 2012).  While the video itself did not form a revolution, the acts that followed certainly did.  People took to social media in a torrent of support for the rally that was set to occur on the 25th of January 2011, when an ‘event’ was created for the date by Wael Ghoneim over 100,000 people signed up for it.  While clicking ‘attend’ on Facebook does not necessarily constitute that people will actually turn up, on the day there was a flood of people protesting in Cairo as well as many other places across Egypt (Barrons, 2012).  These types of revolutionary events would be much harder to coordinate without the use of social media, while they are and have been possible across history; these events are made much easier by the collaboration across mediums such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

While we see many positive outcomes from the use of social media it is important to note the negatives that this change in the way we communicate with each other brings.  Diamond (2010) suggests that social media is merely a tool ‘open to both noble and nefarious purposes’ (pg. 71).  We see a distinct increase in the ability to deceive people, as the famous comic by Peter Steiner published in The New Yorker in 1993 states ‘On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog’,  this resonates in the social media world also.  On the Internet identity denotes a certain amount of trust, having not met a person in the flesh; one is to trust that their online identity is somewhat accurate.  A great example of identity fraud on the Internet is a documentary released in 2010 called Catfish.  This movie depicts a man who has met a family on the Internet through Facebook, he falls in love with a woman named Megan and through careful investigation discovers that the entire family, including around twelve Facebook profiles have been fabricated by a middle-aged woman named Angela.  While this is a somewhat innocent deception, it shows us that we should be cautious about revealing too much of ourselves to a person we’ve never met face to face.

Bullying has always been an issue within society; people fear what they do not understand.  This has become an issue online as well.  Carter (2013) describes cyber bullying as ‘when individuals or groups use online communication devices to intentionally and repeatedly engage in hostile behaviours online, intended to hurt and harm others’ (pg. 1296).  This practice has become easier to achieve due to social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.  Before social networks teenagers could escape the bullying when they went home from school, unfortunately now due to the connectivity of social networks, the abuse can continue at an almost constant rate.  It’s not surprising then that research shows that 85% of teens and children who are victims of traditional bullying are also victims of its cyber counterpart (Juvoven & Gross, 2008).  Contrary to popular belief, cyber bullying is not anonymous; nearly all social networking websites record names, dates of birth and contact information, therefore, these bullies can be reprimanded for their actions if reported, unfortunately however very few people who are being bullied online step forward and report it for fear of the abuse getting worse (Carter, 2013).  The best option it seems to avoid such situations is to teach ourselves and our children to protect themselves online (Guo, 2008).

The media tells us about predators praying on weaker victims, the lady out jogging early in the morning, the woman walking home through the park in the dark, but what seems to be featuring more and more in the news is the ‘cyber’ predator who prays on innocent children and teenagers.  There are many names for this group of individuals, cyber predators, pedophiles, even stalkers.  According to Mishra & Mishra (2013) cyber stalking is ‘when a person is followed and pursued online.  Their privacy is invaded, their every move watched’ (pg. 32).  Although children and teenagers are the most talked about in the news with regards to predators, cyber stalkers can attack anyone.  Social networks have caused concern among many people due to the popularity and visibility of the sites online (Guo, 2008).  The issue is with social networking as people are required to input personal information such as name, date of birth, contact details, and even likes and dislikes.  Without the proper knowledge regarding privacy settings this information is usually automatically set to ‘public’, simply meaning anyone can see it.  This opens victims up to cyber stalking as the predator can access all the information the victim has put into their profile, they can manipulate and claim to enjoy the same things as the victim, often seeming friendly and relatable (Guo, 2008).  Often victims of online predators are new on the Internet and have not been taught about Internet safety, these people are often females, children, emotionally weak or unstable (Mishra & Mishra, 2013).  This of course is not to say men are not targeted also; there are many reports of female cyber stalkers.  Cyber stalking is a global problem but fortunately social media is constantly being used to track down and arrest predators who opportunely have input their details into a profile on social media sites (Moronzov, 2011).

Web 2.0 has completely changed the way we communicate in the twenty-first century.  Social media has taken the world by storm; we have entered a new social world that defines us in an utterly different way, people know us from our online profiles and web presence.  Social media networks through the Web 2.0 platform has allowed extended communication with family, friends and like-minded people.  We can collaborate on things we feel strongly about with an ease people in the twentieth century would have considered purely science fiction.  While we have these fantastic positives of social media we also see an increase in the negatives such as cyber bullies and predators, however these people are commonly brought to justice using the same technology they use to instill fear into their victims.  With proper education on Internet and social network safety we can make predators’ jobs that much harder.  Social media is a fantastic tool that Internet users have in the palm of their hands and the positive effects of this far outweigh the negatives.


References

Barrons, G. (2012). ‘Suleiman: Mubarak decided to step down #egypt #jan25 OH MY GOD’: examining the use of social media in the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Contemporary Arab Affairs, 5 (1), 54-67.

boyd, d.m. & Ellison, N.B. (2007).  Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 13 (1), 210-230.

Carter, M.A. (2013). Third party observers witnessing cyber bullying on social media sites. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 84 (2013), 1296-1309.

Diamond, L. (2010). Liberation technology. Journal of Democracy, 21 (3), 69-83.

Facebook. [ca. 2006]. In Facebook [Facebook]. Retrieved January 10, 2015, from https://www.facebook.com/FacebookAU/info?tab=page_info

Greenhill, K. (2013). Week One [iLecture]. Retrieved from LIS125 Technologies for Information Services Unit, Curtin University.

Guo, R.M. (2008).  Stranger Danger and the Online Social Network. Berkelery Technology Law Journal, 23 (617), 617-644.

Jarecki, A. (Producer), Joost, H. (Producer), & Joost, H. (Director), Schulman, A. (Director). (2010). Catfish [Motion picture]. Hit The Ground Running Films.

Juvoven, J. & Gross, E. (2008). Bullying experiences in cyberspace. The Journal of School Health, 78, 496-505.

Mishra, A. & Mishra, D. (2013).  Cyber Stalking: A Challenge for Web Security. In L.J. Janczewski & A.M. Colarik (Eds.), Cyber Warfare and Cyber Terrorism (pp. 32-42).

Moronzov, E. (2011). The net delusion: the dark side of Internet freedom. New York, NY: PublicAffairs.

Steiner, P. (1993, July 5).  On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.  The New Yorker.

Creative Commons License
Facebook Me: Twenty-First Century Communication by Sheridan Brownlie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s