Has the arrival of Facebook, Twitter and the numerous other social media and networking sites impacted positively on our day to day living? This is something I ask myself regularly. Are we better people as a result of social media or has it just allowed us a wider platform to be the same.
I will admit to be being a huge Facebook and Twitter fan. I have a love hate relationship with Facebook. I predominantly use the social networking site to keep in contact with extended family and close friends who live abroad. It’s a fantastic way of sharing news and photos; however, I think it has an element of the valley of the twitching curtains about it. The arrival of “friend requests” from people who wouldn’t pass the time of day with you on the street always makes me suspicious!
Twitter is a hive of activity and a mine of information, both useful and useless. Conversations can be philosophical or whimsical depending on your mood. Yet there are times when heated debate becomes a means of slinging insult. Not too bad if you are a grown adult and can dust yourself off and mark it down to experience.
While I love using social network sites I would be very reluctant to allow my two children to set up Facebook accounts. Watching some of the youth activity online is fascinating and disturbing in equal amounts. I’m amazed at the amount of hostility and exclusion that takes place in cyber space. Somehow seeing it in glorious technicolour and text makes it all the more offensive and wrong.
I’m amused by the amount of “friends” people have. The higher the number the more popular/successful one is deemed to be within the social networking sphere. I’m not sure I want my children exposed to such a shallow environment at the moment.
I don’t want to hold my children back or deprive them of an outlet that allows them converse with their peers. I just worry that some of the nonsense that children and adults post on Facebook may cause undue worry and stress.
When chatting away over a cuppa or a can of coke you are aware of the body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. When holding court via the internet or texting on your mobile all these telltale signs are removed.
I’ve often found myself reading a text in a certain tone and beginning to bristle at it before reminding myself that I am injecting the words with a meaning that they may not have.
When face to face conversations get a little heated we tend to take a step back and re-evaluate the point we are trying to make, we tend to be less harsh. Holding similar conversations online or via text are not as nuanced and it would seem that we forget that there is a person at the end of the machine.
Various events over the past few months have prompted me to reassess the advantages and the disadvantages of social media, the internet and instant type messaging. I am by nature rather hot headed. I often react before I have fully thought things through. While there is a time and a place for everything I really don’t think cyberspace is the place for “washing ones dirty laundry in public” as my lovely mum would say.
For the time being my answer to my two little one’s requests for Facebook pages shall remain a firm no! Home should be a safe haven that they return to at the end of the day, where they are cherished and loved. I think Facebook can wait a little longer before it invades their every waking hour.