How social networking is shaping society
For years, people have complained, and rightfully so, that the media only shows the public what they want it to know. We now that many times we don’t get an entire story and the information we do get may be inflammatory and used as a means to sell additional copies. In the age of social media, the voice of the public can be broadcast to many at the click of a mouse and we decide what is newsworthy. We are now able to relay information without being silenced as the media sometimes is. This has opened a door that can’t be closed and while freedom of speech is our right, we must remember that we are posting to the world and those words, photos, etc. cannot be taken back. It’s much easier to vent or post something negative on a social network than to say it out loud to someone. Just remember that the person you are posting about may see your comment. My parents told me never to put anything in writing; this is the same concept. We are in the early stages of social media still, but remember that a "filter" should be in place when posting anything to the world.
Many people, particularly our youth, are fans of posting each thing they do, each place they go, and who they are with every second of every day without much forethought to the consequences. Keep in mind that by placing this information online, anyone with access to your profile is able see your every move. This can be dangerous, especially with the recent explosion of geo-location apps. Stalkers don’t have a hard time following people who leave a bread trail. Thieves watch social networks to find out when people are leaving on vacation and then break in while they are gone. If you post that you are going on vacation, don’t give dates. Post pictures when you get back so that no one knows exactly when you are gone. Simply be careful.
Though there are a few downsides to social media, there are many pros as well. We interact with our "friends" and family whom we would otherwise not have much contact with. It’s much easier for people living in different areas of the world to stay current with others via social networks. Grandparents who live out of state can see current photos, videos, etc. of their grandchildren in between visits. Friends who took jobs at opposite ends of the country can still connect. In addition, campaigns for causes allow us to spearhead a call to action right from the comfort of our couch. A mass post to all of your connections via each social network can attract volunteers, donors, etc. that can make a big difference in a campaign. Crowdsourcing, or empowering a community to do something specific on behalf of an organization, can also be a powerful tool.
The bottom line: social networking is a great way to stay connected if you follow the etiquette. There is an interesting infographic on one of our Pinterest boards that does a great job of explaining the different social networks and the types of posts you will find on several of the more popular sites. There are many reasons to participate in social networks, and though there are a few reasons to be cautious, the benefits far outweigh them.
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