Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Socializing on the Internet - Successes and Dangers!

Facebook is a great site to connect with people you haven't seen for awhile. I have had the opportunity to do that in the last little while and I have found it to be quite interesting and fulfilling. I am talking about relationships that go back over 30 years. The social networking craze that now permeates the Internet realm has us closer to friends and acquaintances than we have ever been. It is a way to disseminate news at the speed of light. Opinions are formed and influenced every minute of every day through this medium. Entrepreneurs are seeing the future in this direction and are capitalizing on it. New sites are taking off at a phenomenal rate as demonstrated by Twitter. What has catapulted this into the forefront of technology and given it so much power and authority in the scheme of things?

We all want to be heard. We all want to be noticed and praised for what we accomplish. We want these things but at the same time we do not want to be looked upon as arrogant or needy. The written word allows us to accomplish this safely. We can think about what we want to say and before we publish it we can rethink it and rewrite it so that it is polished. With the spoken word we do not have that luxury. I just reread this thought to make sure that what I wanted to say was acceptable. When I am done with this I will go over it again. If it is an important enough message I will have someone else read it before I publish it. Safety then is a big issue. We have also been taught that what is inside really counts. However, we know that this concept is often overlooked if the outside appearance is not what is expected. When we sit behind a computer screen we are all on equal ground. Our opinions will be weighted equally to begin with and we will have the luxury of being relaxed at the same time. For once we do not have to struggle with the spoken language to express ourselves!

The opportunity to meet people is also an expanding Internet business. Again we can truly be polished the first time we meet someone. They can see us to begin with for who we really are and not with the quiet demeanor of an extremely shy individual, or the outspoken and fiery personality of ADD. The further I go with this the more idealistic it appears. So what are the downsides of all of this, if there are any? It seems that whenever something good happens we have a way of also making it bad. Sometimes, very bad! I do not see that happening as long as individuals communicating through the Internet are honest about themselves and others. Here in lies the problem and the danger. Often times individuals that do not have a high self esteem will build themselves up on a social networking site only to be discovered for who they really are when they meet in person. Not only can this be even more damaging to a person's self esteem than an initial personal meet would have been. but it can also cause individuals to be reclusive so they will not have to face the world as themselves. We often times like to appear bigger than we really are. A person who would not normally present themselves a certain way now have to make good on that in the real world.

The sexting that is going on through cell phones is a great example of this. Most people would not expose themselves in front of others or a group, but given the fact that they can do this by themselves is almost exciting. Just like any other secret acts the long range consequences are not thought out. Here is just one of many articles on the Internet that espouses what other consequences can come from acting out. What Caused This? It is important for parents to monitor their children's time online. They need to have outside experiences.Too much Internet, if we are not careful can eliminate this very important part of life and personal growth.

To carry this point even further here is an interesting article from the Washington Post. Crime Solving The police have also seen that this venue of communication is not only informative for them concerning crime but dangerous to the individuals involved. They have also put out reminders that predators and other criminals have not only shown that they can use this resource for their crimes, but they are very good at it. Predators and Thieves I want to add here that these problems are all of ours not just young people. People of all ages can fall into these traps as has been shown in the past and current pornography addictions.

I would like to end this on a positive note. There are all sorts of good things that we can do with these social networking programs on the internet. We can stay contacted with friends for prized associations as well as business associates that might help us find employment when needed. We can communicate with people face to face that are on the other side of the world. We have the wonderful ability to leave tributes to loved ones digitally that will last forever whether that is through a Facebook application or another site on the internet that offers this service. Groups can get together to discuss solutions to problems or as in the case of Genealogists we can share our findings quickly with family members and loved ones. A great opportunity to do this resides within the company I work for and it is a free service.Footnote Pages There are so many other great sites with golden opportunities out there for us that make our world even smaller, by giving us the ability to communicate. We just need to be careful with how we do this. Anyone can see what we do. In order to protect ourselves and our children we need to be aware.