In a world where most of our population is dominated by spending the majority of our time online, its no surprise to see that youths lead the frontline. The article Protecting Youths from Online Harassment, published by the Harvard Mental Health Letter states that “more than half of youths log on to some type of social media site at least once a day”. On top of that, 25% of youths log on to these social sites “at least 10 times a day”. With youths given the opportunity to use social networking to such a high extent, their mindset is affected by what goes on on the internet.
One major change that I’ve noticed with social networks, is that there’s a change in the mindset of relationships. Not only the with behavior of making new friends, but in the behavior dealing with fostering physical relationships.
It seems that before social networks came into play (think Myspace, Xanga, Neopets..), making friends actually had a logical basis. For instance, making friends usually means meeting a person, getting to know them, getting to know them on a personal level, and feeling more comfortable around that person to consider them a friend. But today, it seems that making friends on social networks is the easiest thing ever.
On sites such as Facebook and Myspace, if you want to “make a friend”, you just simply click the “add” button.
What does this mean today? Well, because the majority of youths spend their time online, it’s harder for them to manifest a true friendship relationship. Why work hard at trying to make friends in the real world, when you can make thousands of friends in a few days?
What needs to be address is the true value of these internet friends. You see, there are two types of people; the ones that are friends on social networks with their real friends (outside of social networks), and the ones who add anybody and everybody. With the latter group, they may seem that they are full of social etiquette and confidence, but truly, they lack the social etiquette to help them succeed in life. Social etiquette is the ways in which a person reacts, and deals with another person in a correct situation. How is it that a person will know how to respond in a given situation, when their not given a situation online?
Online, you don’t have your surroundings, or environment to determine how to act. You differentiate when to use local colloquialism or as vast vocabulary online. You can in the real life. But what happens when you spend way to much time online, and not enough time in the real world? Goodbye social etiquette.
I guess that’s why the era that we live in now, is considered “The Digital Age”. Why? Because our whole lives are lived on the internet. Everything is manufactured to be on internet. A recent Google ad (seen below) depicts how easily it is to document one’s life online, rather than having a physical representation of it. What does this mean? It desensitize everything that mankind stands for. We want to keep memories correct? The only way possible today, is to keep in a the world wide web; always to be remembered.
For me personally, I feel like the ideology that’s focused today dealing with social networking, is that it’s marketed to where an individual is encouraged to share their whole life online. Status updates have their own page that range from Facebook “News Feed” to the Twitter “Tweets”. To increase the individualism, a user to suggested to “tag” people who are with them, and to show the location that they’re at.
It’s like living on the Internet.
I feel like the foundations for a healthy relationship is hard to come by these days because of social networking. When was the last time a person actually recollected their day to you face-to-face rather than writing on your wall? Do we as a whole (society-wise) have the social confidence to act the way we do on the Internet, the same way in real life? If we continue down this path of depending on social networks to save our lives, find friends for us, I believe that our social etiquette will soon dwindle down to nothing.
We may be nothing more than a vessel carrying our Internet soul.