History has had many ages: the Bronze Age, the Industrial Age, and sweeping the globe right now is the Digital Age. A social movement exists that invariably affects multiple generations, whether directly or indirectly. I am referring to the social networking revolution. With my experiences in hand I can’t help but wonder, is social networking really a means of social communication or is it in fact the opposite? Do social networking websites promote anti-social behaviour?
In my personal experience I have found that social networking can be a very time-consuming procrastination tool. Due to its prevalence in my life and my inability to avoid checking it at every opportunity, I made the decision to delete my Facebook account over a year ago. But does this affect everyone in the same way, or does the impact of social networking differ between generations? Facebook entered the World Wide Web in 2007, a time where most of my peers had began their undergraduate years in university. If social networking was existent from the time of birth, I am not sure it would be this easy to let it go.
Then why do we use Facebook? I conducted a mini-survey of my fellow peers with reference to the driving factor for social networking. The most common responses were:
- Procrastination tool
- Keeping in contact with friends
- Easier to organise events
- “Stalking” or keeping tabs on friends
- Peer pressure
Apart from mainly positive comments, there was a general consensus that social networking is an avenue for gaining self-confidence. Whether it be through mundane statuses, excessive photo uploads or increasing ‘friend’ count, social networking websites seem to be used for self validation. Despite the social benefits or dismays (depending on how you see it), it seems as though social scientists can benefit from this craze. According to an article produced in Nature, Facebook data can be analysed for research topics such as ‘what drives the spread of information and ideas’ to the very on-topic discussion about whether there is a ‘relationship between social-networking activity and loneliness’.
Regardless of whether I believe social networking promotes sociality, the fact of the matter is that it’s on the rise and soon enough online chat may replace social outings altogether. As for the question if Facebook promotes anti-social behaviour, I will leave that one up to you!