Social networking sites have an increasing amount of users. They enable individuals to connect with and learn about one another. With just a click of a button you can interact and ultimately be “friends” with individuals across the globe. Individuals have access to these social networking sites through their computers, phones, tablets, and other technological devices. Boyd and Ellison in “Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship” (2007) state, “…it is not surprising that [SNSs] have become deeply embedded in users lives.” I agree with this statement entirely. Ever since I got a smartphone I find myself scrolling Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds much more often than before. I have access to these SNSs any time of day, whether that be in the halls, waiting for the bus, or simply sitting on the couch relaxing. I guess you could say my level of surveillance or “monitoring/creeping” has increased.
In my previous blog, I mentioned how I rarely update my Facebook profile, but that doesn’t mean I don’t find myself on the site almost daily. I’m constantly logged on to see what people are doing, newly uploaded photos, and company promos. I do not often think about who is reviewing my profile…
For a number of years I was not allowed to have a social networking account because my parents were worried about what I would post, and the risk that strangers would have access to it. In a sense I could say they protected me from a privacy paradox (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). “Privacy paradox occurs when teens are not aware of the public nature of the Internet” (Boyd & Ellison 2007). When Facebook came to be in 2004, I was 12 years old. I remember many of my friends jumping the bandwagon to make accounts and become a part of the online community. Initially, I was disappointed with my parents and felt left out. Despite what the news said about stalkers and sharing information online, I wanted an account. My friend Bri would let me log on to hers to stay “in the know” of things. At the time, I wasn’t aware Bri left her privacy settings set to: OFF. One day she made a status saying that she was at the mall, and what store she was in. Next thing you know she disappeared for the afternoon and was reported missing for a few hours. From what she remembers, a man came up to her and grabbed her in the middle of the store. The clerk asked if the man was related to Bri, but before Bri got to say “No,” the man proved to the clerk he knew her by presenting her with her name, date of birth, and other information Bri decided to post on her Facebook page. Luckily the man that tried to kidnap Bri did not succeed, the police released her from him that same evening.
But wow, when this happened years ago, I realized how dangerous it is to share personal information online. I didn’t end up getting a Facebook account until Grade 12 when we began utilizing it in classes, and now I rarely use it, I just review it.
Another quick thing that stuck out to me from the readings was the idea that people are resorting to technology because they are lonely. According to Sherry Turkle (2012), “the feeling that no one is listening makes us want to spend time with our technology.” I have to agree with this statement, when students are lonely in the halls you often see them checking their phones and computers, rather than just walking alone. These technological devices are our best companions nowadays. They allow us to have conversations with others, without physically being with them. This solves the fear of being alone.
I also think that with the use of these devices becoming so popular, it contributes to problems with face-to-face conversations and eye contact. Personally, I would take an actual, real-time conversation over text anyday, but Turkle (2012) mentions that most people are afraid of F2F interactions because we don’t have the ability to edit as we talk, therefore we can’t present the exact face that we’d like too. But with computer-mediated communication, we can go back and re-do whatever the message is supposed to be. This “editing” option makes this form of communication attractive to users.
To end off this entry, I’d like to look at another one of Turkle’s quotes: “Once you’re part of the iWorld, it’s amazing how unaware you become of your surroundings” (2012). I have to admit I am a victim of this. I sit at the counter on my phone while my mom makes dinner and pretends to talk to me. I walk through the halls on my phone and bump into people. Hey, we all do it, but these little instances are the easiest way to prove how much we’re missing by not looking up from our devices.
It is evident that CMC and SNSs are changing the way we communicate and the information we share with others, but it’s ultimately up to US when it comes to what types of information we choose to disclose/how much we want to expose of ourselves to others.
Boyd, D. & Ellison, N. (2007). “Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship”, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Volume 13, Issue 1, pages 210–230. http://bit.ly/eXIFLD
Sherry Turkle at TED2012 – Places we don’t want to go: http://bit.ly/yuqbb0