As I have mentioned in previous blog posts. Modes of communication that span from written language to the creation of the printing press to the relatively recent invention of the Internet share one key similarity: it took and is in the midst of taking, centuries to perfect these communication mechanisms. For example, the invention of the printing press took a great deal of trial and error. And even when people were settled on the “perfect” printing press model, people continued to think and expand upon their existing ideas which led to new inventions that evolved into what we know today as the Internet. And even out of the Internet branched new inventions and ideas, such as blogging and social media.
Blogging and social media, though created over a decade ago, are still very new, and we are continuing to learn a lot about them and how they can effectively enhance our lives. Naturally, it will take a while to continue to verse ourselves in blogging and social media during their current primitive stages and as they continue to grow and evolve. Jill Rettberg’s “Blogs, Communities and Networks” discusses this.
The Internet was designed as a “distributed network,” meaning that everything is interconnected—like a web. Blogs and social media sites such as Facebook are organized as distributed networks and are also forms of “social software,” or software built on the idea of social interactions. They offer the ability to immerse into and build a web of social connections whether it be through Facebook friends, blog followers or blogrolls. Like blogging, one of Facebook’s prime purposes is to share information.
In today’s society, there is a constant need to stay updated and connected. As a result, we are forced to depend on technology, namely social media. In fact, we are forced to take part in it over the fear of being ostracized. Because of this need to be a part of and rely on social media, it is important that we understand the purposes of blogging and social media, and their negative drawbacks that we must be aware of in order to protect our privacy and use the media to our best advantage.
Blogs are basically websites that also act as social networks with the purpose of sharing ideas, trends and information. Bloggers create communities by connecting with other bloggers through reading other blogs, writing and responding, linking to blogs and following blogs. Because of its publicity, blogging isn’t a “Dear Diary” mechanism. In other words, bloggers blog with the intent of having people read their
content, whether it be fifteen or one million readers. Even the idea of simply having fifteen people who are genuinely interested in reading their content is sufficient in a blogger’s eyes. Bloggers may connect with each other or with readers through reading and following each other’s blogs, which signifies how bloggers view other fellow bloggers: as friends or acquaintances.
Similarly, Facebook marks relationships over the Internet. People connect through the social web and degrees of relationships are marked by being “Facebook friends” or “Mutual friends.” Unlike Facebook though, blogging offers the ability to separate between different “worlds.” For example, one might have a difficult time isolating their social life from their office job when their boss “friends” them on Facebook. However, blogging does not run into this problem as easily. With blogging, bloggers connect with people who share similar interests and at the same time, have more control over how they present themselves. Still, one must be cautious of how their image can be marked through association. This is shown when one’s Facebook profile appears clean and refined, yet their listed friends may have profile pictures that involve inappropriate activities. This paints a negative image that as a result, marks the person with an appropriate profile guilty by association. In other words, with social media such as Facebook, we present ourselves not only as individuals but also publicly reveal our relationships which also have a lot to say about us. Blogging may be the same in that bloggers follow other blogs which say a lot about their interests.
Regardless of whether it be blogging or Facebook, our images we present are definitely important to consider. The idea that something is permanent and public once it has been posted is true and connects to the idea of the images we portray of ourselves on the Internet. While the Internet is a great way to connect and offers many benefits, it poses some issues. We must be cautious of the personal information we reveal, and we must also be aware that we do not know who is viewing our pages. Future employers or college admissions counselors could be viewing Facebook profiles or reading our blog posts.
We must also be aware that blogs and social media sites, such as Facebook, bookmark the story of a user’s life. On Facebook, the photos they were tagged in, the friends they became friends with, the statuses they updated or the relationships they were involved in all depict a user’s personal story. What is scary, though, is that while a user has ownership over what they post, who they are friends with, etc… Facebook owns their information and as a result, “their story.” Facebook not only owns someone’s information. The company that might buy Facebook has propriety of your information. As a result, we need to be cautious of what we share.
This social web plays a tremendous role in positively connecting society. It brings people with common interests or similar backgrounds together. As much as there are benefits there are also drawbacks. Participating in this social web means we are pushed to give up a lot of our privacy which we are growing more reluctant to do. The Internet is still very new, and we are still in the early process of learning about it and continuing to enhance it to better our lives. Yet, if we continue to educate ourselves properly on how to find a healthy balance and use the Internet such as blogging and Facebook to better connect, share ideas and interests, we will come to immerse ourselves in the beneficial, interconnected world amidst the vast social web.