Weigh­ing up the pros and cons of so­cial net­work­ing

Bray People - - OPINION - DEB­O­RAH COLE­MAN

IN AN age where ev­ery type of tech­nol­ogy is at our fin­ger­tips and we con­stantly gain new ways of ac­cess­ing in­for­ma­tion it is worth con­sid­er­ing what the so­cial cost is. While we text as we walk, check emails en route to work and tweet what we had for break­fast we are in dan­ger of be­com­ing less so­cially com­pe­tent as we func­tion in a mul­ti­me­dia bub­ble.

No­body can doubt that the ad­vance­ments in tech­nol­ogy are of price­less ben­e­fits in cer­tain ways - I can only imag­ine with dread how a news­pa­per was put out in pre-com­puter and email days.

While in pro­fes­sional terms be­ing able to work on the move has be­come in­valu­able and end­lessly efficient but on per­sonal lev­els it has seen many of us favour a quick and easy text mes­sage as the ideal way to send a birth­day greeting or other good wishes.

When did this shift oc­cur and is there not some­thing very un­set­tling about peo­ple who gauge suc­cess and pop­u­lar­ity by the num­ber of Face­book friends they have. How many of these peo­ple do they ac­tu­ally know in per­son? I don't think I know any­one who would pre­fer to re­ceive an e-card in place of the real thing.

Some might ar­gue that so­cial net­works are re­spon­si­ble for keep­ing them in touch with peo­ple they might never meet such as those who are trav­el­ling or who live in other coun­tries.

For all the pos­i­tives there are also neg­a­tives such as cy­ber bul­ly­ing, lack of cen­sor­ship where chil­dren are con- cerned and iden­tity fraud.

One just had to quickly scan cer­tain in­ter­net fo­rums to find all man­ner of 'ex­perts' keen to force their opin­ions on oth­ers as they hide safely be­hind their iden­tity-less user­names. Where chil­dren are con­cerned their home pages of­ten fea­ture con­tent which should be far be­yond their ten­der years but goes unchecked by par­ents.

Blog­ging has also opened up the world of ' jour­nal­ism' to the masses with any­one with a com­puter fa­cil­i­tated in their en­deav­ours and granted ac­cess to a ready and ea­ger read­er­ship.

Of all that I have ex­pe­ri­enced and read about tech­nol­ogy of late none sick­ened me more than the trend favoured by celebri­ties who use Twit­ter to sym­pa­thise with oth­ers over be­reave­ments, mis­car­riages and more.

While it is the only method that ador­ing fans can use to con­tact their idols, fel­low celebri­ties should be ashamed to use so­cial net­work­ing in such cir­cum­stances in a bid to merely feather their own nests un­der the guise of com­pas­sion.

All such me­dia should very much be taken with a large pinch of salt. There is a safety for users that a per­sona can be crafted and sent off into cy­ber-space which they never have to back up or live up to. How much the truth should be stretched is up to you.

How many Face­book friends do you know in per­son?

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