Each decade can be condescended and ultimately defined by a few monumental aspects: the 50’s were defined by the youth revolution, coinciding with the emergence of Rock ‘n’ Roll. This was the first ever time teens were able to break away from the chains and shackles imposed by their parents taste in; music, dress sense and strict moral codes. Rock ‘n’ Roll fuelled the rebellious culture providing them with an alternative, something which was instantly there’s, and there’s alone; new way of dressing, new ideals and most importantly new music. The 60’s birthed hippie culture and a new sexual awakening, in a decade threatened with the prospect of war, and the promise of civil unrest, instead the 60’s generation focused on peace and love, culminating in probably the greatest festival in terms of music, drugs and outrages sex acts, in the form of both famous and infamous Woodstock. The 70’s brought about women liberation, for the first time women where encouraged to leave their cleaning, cooking and kids behind with their husbands in search of their dream careers, and soon enough some of the highest business positions in the world began to be filled by women. With the emergence of MTV, The 80’s with the likes of; Madonna, Michael Jackson and the golden age of Hip Hop, proved to be a pivotal decade for music, giving the world a whole new art form to wonder at – the music video.
Whilst the 90’s was a decade consisting of many cutting edge technological accomplishments, giving life to the dawn of the internet start up, helping lay down the foundations for the new millennium. In the 21st century, with FaceBook being used by close to 1 billion people worldwide, Twitter been updated with more than 300 million tweets per day, and a relatively young company in Snap Chat, turning down a 3 billion buyout. The 21st century has truly been defined as the decade in the epicentre of Social Media boom.
But how did the world get so social media crazy?
Although there were primitive incarnations of the social networks sites, dating way back into the mid 90’s, with the likes of Theglobe.com and Tripod.com. Only did the modern social network site as we see it today, only truly took form seven years later, with the materialization of HubCulture and Friendster, which saw themselves slowly leaked into the internet mainstream. Building from those earlier sits, came the likes of MySpace and LinkedIn. However the Social Network age truly reached its peak with Mark Zucklesbergs brain child FaceBook, which proved so popular it even had an Oscar winning film based on its creation and eventual world domination. Since then Social network as proven its longevity, by now becoming a staple in everyday life; as a means of not just connecting with people, but now meeting people as well as for educational purpose, playing games and even catching up with current global events with the click of the button. It has truly democratised free speech and the sharing of information, now you don’t have to be a head of state or an A list celebrity to ensure your voice is heard, instead by simply logging on, you elevate yourself onto a podium where the whole world is could be listening.
Has the world been improved for the better because of social networking?
People would argue that the social networks have delivered so much good to the world, which would be a statement difficult to argue against. With the invention of the social platforms in the shape of the like of FaceBook and Twitter, it has meant that the world has gotten a lot smaller, no longer are we divided by deserts, mountains or oceans, instead one billion of us can all convene into one place, and share our hobbies, interests and lives with people half way across the world. It’s more than just keeping in touch with friends and family, it allows you also to meet and then connect with like minded people from where in the world, to the extent now if a new couple where to say they meet on FaceBook after liking the page of the cool hipster, underground and all female Russian rap crew, no one bats a eye lid because it’s pretty much normal now. With a smaller world also means diehard fans can stalk their idols without the fear of a restraining order, and the site that best epitomises this is Twitter, which allows you to monitor every last thought, action and opinion of your celebrity crushes.
Another benefit is that social networks have, is that they have completely democratised the sharing of information, before we had to wait for the 6’oclock news to see what was happening in Syria, but now with Twitter we get instant updates from the people actually leaving there and experiencing the tragedies first hand. This demarcating of sharing of information means that now people from all over the world can bring about global or big political change, all with the power of the world wide web, so if you have a problem with something, your more than likely to find someone else who shares the same opinion, just by a simple liking of a page or sharing of a tweet.
Social networking is not always so serious, it can also be a great way for creative types to share their talents to the world, so you can meet other like you or if you’re lucky, you might have your page viewed by a person who can help realize your dreams, that why it should be no surprise that big music labels have whole division assigned to surfing the web, going through countless FaceBook pages with the aim of signing the next big thing.
But as great as all that seems, I feel that it’s not so much the negative side to the social networks themselves, but more to do with the affect it has on the people who use them, more particularly the teenage generation, which is slowly being destroyed by these huge internet conglomerates. I first I realised that social networks weren’t the angels stepped in gold dust as I once thought, this epiphany came to me, during a blind date with an attractive red head a friend set me up with. I thought the date was going well because conversation was flowing well, she was doing all the controlling and directing of conversation, which was good as it reduced the likely hood of me saying something to completely embarrass myself. But eventually dawned on me that it seemed that every new topic of conversation that aroused, was something I was I really into. At first it thought maybe it was fate and she was my long lost soul mate, but when I brought it up she calmly confessed that she had been on my FaceBook. To most people that wouldn’t have been an ensure, heck they probably had done the same thing beforehand, whereas for me the thought of it felt rather uncomfortable, as if she invaded my privacy, despite not having any dead hookers hidden under my basement and not being a secret Justine Bebier fan, I had nothing out of the ordinary to hide. But it just felt that it took all the fun out of the blind date, actually worse still, it destroyed the blind date. The very nature of a blind date means not knowing anything about the person past their first name, which makes even more exciting when you meet them and find out your have all the same interests and hobbies, but with a quick browse through FaceBook, you can almost map out their entire existence and their entire essence of being, through a few pictures, list of likes and posts, absolutely taking out the entire fun of the getting to know someone faze of a new relationship.
FaceBook destructive effect on relationships, doesn’t just end with the beginning of them, it also has an adverse effect during the ending of them to. The very nature of FaceBook is to connect with people via a computer or a smart phone, which means it, requires no real direct face to face contact, helping to prove, not just a platform for connecting with people, but instead a hotbed for the ending of them. So instead of the curtsy ending a relationship in person or even a phone call, someone can end their relationship without even having to even directing message them, alternatively they can simply change their relationship status to ‘single’, knowing full-well that their partner would see it and know instantly of its meaning. To add to this worse still just over half of us still keep our ex’s as friends on FaceBook, even if we wanted to remove all traces of them, it could prove difficult to shift though thousands of tagged messages and photo’s, leaving it as an almost impossibility to rid you of their presence. So in the mean time you’re constantly bombarded with continues barrages of updates of what you’re ex is doing and who they are doing it with.
But it doesn’t just affect out interactions with other human beings, it also can have a detrimental effect on us. In a Newsweek article, Johannah Cornblatt explains “Social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace may provide people with a false sense of connection that ultimately increases loneliness in people who feel alone”. Although some would refute this claim, I find it completely responsible, and from my experience also correct. Sure you can have 1000 friends on face, 500 followers on twitter, but how many of them are you actually truly friends with? And it’s not just that, social networks subdues your desire to go out and meet new people, instead choosing to remain seated behind your computer thinking you’re being social, but are you really talking to the real person or just their online personas? You only truly know someone and connect with them when you spend actual real world time with them. 10 hours on instant messaging probably equals 1 and a half of real time in terms of deepness of interaction. Also this lack of deep interaction consequently means your social skills will lack. You could go into any cafeteria now and see two teenage girls who claim to be good friends, spend a whole hour next to each other but only utter a total of 5 words to one and another, the rest of the time is spent on their phones, supposedly doing online something they very well could be doing right there, interacting and being social. No long do people surrender to awkward situation and force themselves to talk to people they don’t know, instead now a day’s all they have to do, is whip out their phones and en case themselves in a impenetrable social bubble.
For my Penultimate aspect negative aspect of social networking, we have FaceBook depression; recently studies have proven that more teens are more likely to experience it then their parents and grandparents before them. We are a species that firmly believes that the grass is always greener somewhere else, and this is not helped by the fact that it is confirmed when you see other people’s pictures of posts showing how great their lives are, whilst you spend a lonely Sunday night writing about social networks. Leading to low self-esteem and deep seeded feelings of inadequacy, even though those posts are an uneven representation of their lives, because easily they can edit all the lows and portray all the highs, so to the world, their lives can appear to be a none stop party.
Finally we have the simple fact that once you put something on the internet, it is notoriously difficult to get rid of, because as soon as you upload it, it could easily have been saved or downloaded maybe close to one hundred times, depending on the level of embarrassing nature of the said photograph. With the likes of FaceBook it’s even more difficult with the invention of the tag button, meaning that anyone, even without your knowledge can take an embarrassing photo of you without you knowing, then by simply tagging your name on it, expose you to armies of ridicule from friends. But don’t forget that with 1 billion people being on FaceBook, there is a relatively high chance that your boss could see you in very professionally questionable situations, involving some; marmite, women’s stockings, a black eye and a magicians hat, after a friend’s birthday pub crawl. And worse still your mother could find them as well.
Sure some would say that social networking is just another tool for the 21st century, and like any other tools, it could be a force for good, or a force for bad. But I just feel once you get over the novelty aspect of being able to communicating with people without actually having to physically meet them, then you realize this computer simulated fantasy land with; fake online personas, the inability to protect your must private moment, the detrimental effects it has on social skills, relationships and your emotional state, will people realize that no amount of online friends can ever equate to the feeling of having real world, profound connections with the people around you. If I would have to place a time scale on this social networking life span, I find it difficult to envision a near future absent of tweets, posts, comments and likes. Okay maybe a complete ban is out of the question, but I hope at least we will eventually get bored with the online world, and start living in the real world.