Exclusive information, invasion of privacy, a good community, a bad influence, support, and suicide. These are but a few of the outcomes of social networking. Countless stories have told of countless results, good and bad. News articles and alerts make sure that we know of these dangers but a social network is also presented as a tool. So which is it? If all of these claims, good and bad, are true about social networking, is it a benefit or detriment to our society? Is there even one definite answer? The answer is more than just choosing an extreme. The outcome of a social network experience depends on how it is used.
Most articles on this subject choose one path and have a clear agenda to prove their point. Social networking is rather a boon or bane to our lifestyle, such a mindset would not consider all the possibilities social networking could lead to. The stories with both positive and negative outcomes are all true, so its only not one side of the argument or the other. Social networking can cause both positive and negative inflictions on your life. They also might not cause either.
On the negative side, people are victimized. By bullying, stalkers, and pedofiles. Megan Meier, a 13 year old girl who loved going onto MySpace met a user that went by the name of Josh Evans. Josh was actually an account created by one of Megans friends as a joke. Megans friend wanted to mess with her, so she made is seem like Josh was falling in love with Megan over MySpace and Megan believed it. The friend thought it would be funny to see Megans reaction if this Josh character were to break up with Megan. A few days after the break up Megan was reported dead. The lies that were fed to her lead to Megan taking her own life. As tragic as some stories are, there is no such thing as an innocent victim. A person cant be attacked just by creating a account, its what they decide to reveal and trust that leads to possible tragedies. On most social network sites when you create an account, there is a terms and conditions page that must be agreed to before proceeding. Scoopshot.com hosted a survey with 1,270 respondents proved that over 30% didnt even read the terms and conditions and just skipped the long and boring page. By clicking I agree you are accepting all possible outcomes. There is a line between innocence and insolence. If a younger user is sharing personal information and they are victimized as a result, one cannot claim that the user was without blame. The user must be old and mature enough to understand what sharing private information can do. Anyone joining a social network should know exactly what theyre getting themselves into before clicking I agree.
As the story of Megan has proven, a persons social network can mean the world to them. Through the status of likes and shares or just being in the community, a social network can sometimes seem like an entirely different world. Its okay to be in a online community, but it should never replace a persons real life. As sad as it is, the lines between the virtual world and the real world can be extremely blurred to some. Social networks aren’t made to be a lifestyle. John Palfrey and Urs Gasser in their book, Born Digital, referred to people born a raised in the era of technology that allows online social platforms as Digital Natives. Digital Natives have grown up with this second world, it isnt just another quality of life to them. This is all theyve known. A persons attachment to a social network can often be tied to how they treat real life. Is it as important? Is it more important? If someones commitment to an online community is is greater than the commitment to their own real life, there is definitely a problem. People often forget we have a choice on what we commit ourselves to. The impact that social networking has on a persons life is as large as the person lets it get.
When it comes to threats over a social network, predators are usually the first thought that goes through peoples heads. Predators are the result of a planted and watered seed. What is the seed exactly? The main risk is the improper use of technology . That’s where it all starts: with a word, a picture, a certain reveal of information, it all starts with the decision to post. Users aware of potential threats still might not know how to handle a threat when one comes their way. A great example is the classic answer to being bullied: Dont reply! The harrassors want the victim to fight back, if he/she does so, theyre giving the enemy exactly what they want. The solution of Dont reply isnt answer to every situation on a social network though, many attacks are the result of a single post, in that situation the user should utilize the phrase, Think before you post. There have been so many conflicts that could have been prevented if the user just thought before posting instead of acting in the heat of the moment.
Social Networks arent the devil. Its use requires just as much caution as cooking, driving, or even talking. Not a single person is required to have an account, never is it essential to a human life. People survived long before it existed, they can live on without it now. The ideals of a social network can give people incorrect morals and standards, and if thats the case, said person should just leave or take a break. The Social Network was created with fun and helpfulness in mind, if its not fun or helpful, why bother?
Social networking isnt completely safe, nor is it completely dangerous. If the user knows what theyre doing, what to and what not to post, how to handle a situation, and when to take a break, social networking will be a much for safe environment. Yes, tragedies have occurred thanks to a social network because mistakes were made, but such mistakes can be avoided
with the proper mental equipment. Expect what is put into a post, to come out. What comes out depends on the decisions of the user.