Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Social Networks: Saint or Sinner

Social Networks.  Everybody has some idea of what they are.   Well dear reader, you do, or more than likely, you wouldn't be here.  Social networking is all about being a member of a group that shares some common interest and believes in sharing information.  In the past this has meant belonging to an extended group of friends or people in clubs that you personally know and talk to.  Nowadays this means using computing technology hosted by companies like Facebook, Twitter or Google to maintain contact with your social group.  Because you don't have to meet face to face, you can have a much larger social group, where one post can be read by thousands and your friends can be spread around the world.  Something that just couldn't be done before Social Networks arrived on the scene.

As they say, its good to share and keep up to date with your mates.  And we can all think of positive benefits to social networking.  But is there a dark side?

We've all heard of stories along the lines of "Facebook lost me my job", mostly because people have included pictures of themselves doing something inappropriate or because they've said things about their work mates or their boss.  In which case, don't blame Facebook, Twitter or any other site, its down to being an IDIOT!  Plain and simple.  What is said on Facebook, stays on Facebook ...  and there will be consequences, perhaps not to day, not tomorrow, but when you least expect it.  Like when applying for a job and increasingly colleges, employers are scanning social network sites for what job applicants have said or done.  No!  We can't blame technology or social networking sites for allowing us to be idiots. Being able to use a computer is no protection against stupidity.

Some experts believe social networking is evil because of the way it allows companies to track and record so called private data like where we go, what we we see and what we read.  To an extent they have a point, but perhaps the real danger of social networking is its main strength:  the ability to recruit others to a common cause.  While this is can be a benefit, it can as the video above shows, be a force for bad where people can join together to oppress others in what's become known as cyber-bullying.

Some liken this to a virus spreading desiese between groups.  It starts slowly through a marginally offensive remarks.  These slowly becomes worse, as friends try and outdo each other in being rude about another and these as the video below shows, generally tend to be girls.

Then there are the 'Trolls'.  These tend to be individuals who 'troll about' the internet to make hate filled comments, such as taking delight in someone's else misfortune.  Why? Know one really knows.  Perhaps its because they are sad and insecure loners who want everyone else to be as miserable as they are.  Or perhaps its because, with technology available, they can.

So what do you think are social networks good or bad?  Have you been bullied in this way?  What do you think about 'trolls'?  Why do they do it?  Do you think social networking should be allowed in school?  Come on let us  know?

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