Social Interaction on Social Networking Real or Fake?

The digital world and social networking has had a large effect on the world today in so many ways that can completely confuse someone in what way they are being affected by social networking. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Skype and many other social networking websites and programs have had some significant effect on today’s youth in some type of way for sure. Ulises Ali Meijias in his book Off the Network: Disrupting the Digital World talks about the variety of effects social networking can have on people and other things as well.

“Networks are designed to attract participation, but the more we participate in them, the more inequality and disparity they produce. The way in which they do so— the way in which they create inequality while increasing participation—is through strategies that include the commodification of social labor (bringing activities we used to perform outside the market into the market), the privatization of social spaces (eradicating public spaces and replacing them with ‘enhanced’ private spaces), and the surveillance of dissenters (through new methods of data mining and monitoring)” (Meijias, 3).

Social networks are typically known or criticized to stop or limit face-to-face social interaction and this is true to some extent. It is also a harsh critique of social networks because I myself have been able to reconnect with old friends from my past through social networking like Facebook as is also helpful with staying in touch with current friends as well. Social networking may make it easier to stay connected with someone, but it can still limit physical interaction for friends that live longer distance to the point where their social interaction is only online since it’s a stretch to see one another. However, the fact that makes social networking look good is that friends who live far away from each other or relocate may never interact at all unless they have each other on a social network. On social networks you can communicate to a friend where it would be appropriate to meet face-to-face and thus this can be an example of how social networking can potentially increase face-to-face interaction. If social networking is used the right way you can maintain some physical social interaction with long distance friends as well as increase interaction with close friends by setting up times to meet, while still maintaining a high level of social networking interactivity. It is tough to argue that social networking does more harm than good and even Meijias confesses this. Meijias says “The unfairness and inequality of participation in digital networks is a difficult trend to observe given the fact that an increase in access to digital networks is, most of the time, reported as a sign of progress” (Meijias, 5). The reason this is because it makes doing business and promoting products easy as opposed to traditional methods (Meijias, 19).

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Maybe there is another way to expose some bad things about social networking where it was difficult to do so in terms of social interaction among friends or peers. Privacy is something many people value at different levels and it is something that seems almost non-existent on social networks since all interests a user searches online can potentially be exposed to online social marketers. The organizers behind these online social network marketing tricks are something that many people don’t look into with great detail. Meijias even says “if we want to formulate a comprehensive critique of the digital network, for it can help us move away from simplistic questions about whether we should use the network or not to more relevant (and more difficult) questions about the kinds of relationships we enter into when we use digital networks” (Meijias, 19). People are being fooled if they think they are developing a more comfortable and trustworthy relationship with some marketer online through a digital network just because it may appear to be a more personal interaction. It is almost unavoidable using sources like Google, Facebook and other networks since their services are free to all users and this makes digital networks a necessity. To some people online digital networks are still new and unfamiliar so therefore they see their online activity or experience happening in an alternate reality (Meijias, 55). Meijias tries to summarize this experience by saying “we believed that our actions could begin, unfold, and conclude entirely online without any repercussions to life offline, thus concluding that virtuality had its own set of rules and values that did not correspond in a one-to-one manner to the rest of reality” (Meijias, 55). Online networking at the end of day can never replicate the same face-to-face kind of interaction so any relationship developed through online networking should not be considered real and it should only be treated as a life online.

Mejias, Ulises Ali. Off the Network: Disrupting the Digital World. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis: 2013. Print.

Images from:

http://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2010/3714/facebook-grows-others-stagnate-interaction-levels-steady

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