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“I’ll just quickly go to Eric’s house to see if Eric’s Home, and ask what he’s doing tonight. I hope that Monica is not involved with Eric, although I often see her talking to that guy. Or shall I call Amber, because I heard she likes me.”
That was a typical youngster life about 50 years ago. When you wanted to talk to someone, you went to him or her, or gave them a phone call. That was our way of interacting with people in our culture back then.
“Quickly looking if Eric has posted something this night on Twitter. Hoping that Monica isn’t doing something this evening, although she often sends messages to that guy on Facebook. Or shall I talk to Amber on Facebook chat? She likes all my pictures, maybe she fancies me?”
This is a more modern approach which we would use nowadays. Just compare the two examples, and you see the big difference. Therefore we can ask ourselves the question: ‘Are we connected better nowadays with social media, or are we worse off?’
Our culture has norms and values. It makes us who we are, what we feel connected to and how we behave. One of the aspects of culture is social interaction between people. How we behave to one another and in which way we do that. Social media has taken a big role in our social interaction. We no longer have to speak to a person to know what they are doing. We just look on twitter of Facebook. Or we give them a quick message on MSN or Whatsapp. This leads to less ‘real-life’ or physical contact. This could be seen in a negative and in a positive way. The real connection such as visual and emotional expressions aren’t shown anymore, because you both look at a computerized display. This way messages could be understood differently than they should be, because they don’t get to know the real meaning behind the message.
Social media can create a gap between generations. The majority of social media users are teenagers or young adults.
[fact1: 50% of the world population is under 30 years of age]
Although more and more people start to use this type of media, it are especially younger people who start using social media, not adults. People who are for example 50 years or older do have trouble to keep ‘updated’ with all modern technology like computers, not even mentioning the social media use on these computers.
“We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well DO it”
– Erik Qualman
Social media can also be dangerous. That might sound odd, but you all might have experienced the dangers of social media before. When you posted something on Facebook or Twitter, and after that you regret that you made that post. That’s a negative side of internet.
We all have to be careful now with what we do or what we say. When things are put on the internet, it can stay there forever. When there was no internet, words that were said would just be forgotten after a certain time, and people couldn’t copy it. Now with social media, messages can be copied, duplicated and spread so easily that you really have to be careful with what you say. Your privacy can also be put to the test by showing and sharing all the things you do. People know what you are doing, where you are and what your status is.
[fact1: there are over 110 million updates posted on Facebook and Twitter every day]
Many people don’t do anything with it, but some will use that information for purposes you don’t want them to use.
So called ‘leaking info’ can also be dangerous. For example in important negations or other meetings, there have been multiple people who accidentally leaked important and secret information which were shown in such meetings.
There are other things important too for our culture. Our very own Dutch language for example. It’s used less and less on social media. This is due to the globalization and English being used more and more often as an lingua franca.
[fact1: if Facebook were a country, it would be world’s 3rd largest country in terms of population]
Nowadays you see and increasing use of English: English quotes, abbreviations (brb = be right back, omwt = on my way to.. and ftw = for the win) or complete English sentences. There are multiple reasons for this: English sounds a lot ‘cooler’ than some Dutch words. Some jokes are only funny in English or you have an audience in mind that doesn’t speak your language, but who do speak English.
Social media is not only negative. On the other hand contact is made easier, because you have a sort of safety behind your computer or mobile phone. Nobody sees you. You can act out who you want (remember though: this can be deceiving too). You also make contact easier via social media. Many people prefer a message via internet on e.g. Facebook or Twitter than giving them a call or go by and visit them. People are usually more shy in public. Therefore you can say that there could be more social interaction between people, and a reason for that contact is made easier than before. Social media invites people to write more messages, updates or other messaging. You have to keep updated by reading your friends’ updates, but you have to post what you are doing too; making dinner, going to the beach or just going to sleep.
[fact1: visiting social sites is now more popular than checking personal email]
It reaches all your updated friends on social media, so the message you sent is multiplied dozens of times. It’s like give a speech to a huge square filled with people. The only difference with that speech is that social media messaging happens every minute, those speeches only take place a certain amount of times in a year, because not everybody wants to group-up too often.
“Focus on how to BE social, not how to DO social”
– Jay Baer
Social Media are sometimes called ‘the biggest shift since the industrial revolution’. We all notice that social media has turned into something really big. Some use it more often than others, but our culture has changed. There is now more contact via internet. Will this in the end ‘kill’ our social cohesion and will groups of people be left out? Or will our social interaction become extensive and will our relationships get better? These are all questions which can’t be answered yet and can only be answered in the future. The thing we do know is that how social media changes our culture is all in our hands; how we deal with it. Be careful with what you do on social media, because before you know it, social media can blow it. It is a great gift though, and with proper and with humble use, we all can enjoy the use of it; whether Monica is doing something tonight or if Amber is really into me..
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