If you live in America and own any device with Internet access, odds are pretty good that you have at least one social networking account. Examples of social media include Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Social networking is designed to connect users with their friends, family, and colleagues online. The real world ramifications of things posted on sites such as Facebook are surprising.
Many people treat social networking sites like Facebook as reliable sources of information, when in actuality the “facts” they’ve been reading are total bunk. They also assume that they possess some form of anonymity while online, that the rest of the world can’t see everything they post. On the contrary, quite a few Facebook users have been arrested for bragging about their illegal activities in status updates1. Others have lost their jobs due to inappropriate work-related content posted on their Facebook timelines2.
Real-world relationships can be easily damaged through the use of social networking. In the pre-Internet days, gossip was exchanged in private. Now it’s posted publicly and discussed in depth and at great length. Moreover, many people see Facebook as an opportunity to verbally attack and threaten others. Some people use Facebook as a dating site, even though they have their spouse and/or children prominently displayed on their profiles. Why? They assume no one will ever know, and they behave in ways they would never consider during face to face encounters.
Poor social behavior doesn’t stop with Facebook. There was the famous incident where a group of teenagers attacked another teen, and afterward uploaded the video to Youtube3. Consider the countless videos of teenagers smoking legal but nevertheless dangerous drugs, or posting videos to bully other teenagers. Facebook bullying has even resulted in suicide4.
In conclusion, social networking is a wonderful tool for reconnecting with old friends or distant family but it has a dark side too. It tends to bring out the worst in some people.
3 New York Times