Social Networking

Is Social Media an Addiction

Increasingly we are witnessing a large amount of research that points to the addictive nature of social media. Now of course this makes sense but it's not all bad news. 

There is an increasing number of young people leaving social media. It appears that when asked these people say that they either found it stressing them out or that they found themselves neglecting the real world and those they care about in real life. This doesn't surprise me as whether we like to admit it or not younger people are more likely to recognise these signs and to do something about it. 

A study I was reading stated that of course social media can be addictive like anything else in life can. Just because you are not an incessant poster doesn't mean you are not addicted. Some signs to look out for are being anxious when you haven't been on in a while, the need to "just check" your Facebook when you should be focussed on something else, the need to look at every alert or notification as soon as they appear, responding or checking your phone during a meal. These are only a few. It also discussed those who claim that that being on social media relaxes them.  This is highly unlikely as sites such as FB have been proven to cause stress through the shear volume of information. It gave the example that if you asked a drug addict or alcoholic why they drink, they will say it helps them relax or escape. Sounds familiar doesn't it. 

That doesn't mean that it's all bad it just means that you need to teach yourself how to control it. It is really entertainment, so treat it as such. If something or someone really needs you they will ring, put your phone where you can't see it at night and put it on Do Not Disturb, as many phones will allow phone calls in from people you have placed on your Favourites list. Make sure you are not looking at your phone every time you get a notification or alert. So put your phone or tablet away and concentrate on connecting to those you love and those who truly value you in real life. 

Remember what is important and what is truly urgent. Give yourself time to reply to messages but allocate a time or times each day to do this. People need to learn that you don't always have your phone next to you and that you will get back to them when you choose and not instantly. Otherwise it will become expected. 

24 Hour Technology

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A couple of days ago I posted a clip that was sent to me about social media and people being on it constantly. I was also watching a story in this topic recently where the expert referred to it as not people constantly being on social media or texting but was specific and said, people constantly on Facebook lol. 

It does make me wonder how we can find balance with technology. I am a heavy user of technology in my job and certainly support advances in technology. When I say balance what I am referring to is the utilisation of technology versus the growing need to use it 24 hours a day. Sitting at a cafe with a group of people constantly on your phone checking Facebook or Twitter or constantly posting to Instagram is actually rude and as humans we need to consider that. Being constantly on your phone or tablet at home means you are only partly present in your loved ones presence and this is dangerous. 

I have to ask the question, why is it becoming more necessary to cyber stalk others or constantly know every move others are posting and doing in their lives. The level of voyeurism is astonishing and with the amount of time that is spent on it has to be having a negative impact on people's relationships and minds. 

However there is a slight ray of hope. More and more I am seeing young people under 25 saying no to Facebook and other social networks. When I quiz them about it they simply say they would rather interact with people face to face and when not doing that they can spend time alone. The overwhelming reaction by people who have previously had social networking sites and gotten rid of them is how much time they have and how much more peaceful they feel not getting caught up in other peoples lives has been the best part. So who knows what will happen in the future. Maybe there will be a shift in consciousness in time. I guess we will wait and see how people evolve. 

Digital Dating

A friend recently asked me why they couldn't get a boyfriend. Now this person is about the sweetest most wonderful person I know and really deserves to meet someone so I thought I’d do my best to help. When I asked how he hopes to meet someone he said well primarily he meets people through online dating or social media. I thought to myself, ok, that’s fine because the reality of this day and age is that it a legitimate means. 

Now with only the knowledge of his social media it was pretty obvious to me why he was having trouble. So my response was short and sweet to the original question. I started by making the statement “Well that would be because of your Facebook and Twitter accounts”. I just got this blank look which I kinda knew I would. I followed on and said if I didn’t know you but was on one of your social media sites I wouldn’t come near you. The person you portray on social media isn’t the real you in any way shape or form and if you hope to meet someone that way you need to be more of yourself. 

The problem with his social media is two fold. Firstly he comes across as someone who as an extremely active social life which isn’t the truth and secondly the type of person he wants to meet isn’t going to be interested in someone who comes across as self absorbed, which he does on the sites. 

Now I know that he is nothing like this and really is just lonely but because of his interactions online and the fact that he is extremely attractive he doesn’t have a chance to find someone he feels compatible with. So it raises a lot of questions around our personas online. Now most people are not the same IRL as they are online. We know that most people feel more comfortable online so they really create another personality, whether it be on purpose or simply because the gap between the screen and real life gives us a lot of courage. However if more and more technology is how we are meeting new people, that is simply not going to work, because once the interactions spill over into the real world, it will all fall apart. 

So for the future what does this mean? Does it mean we will see more and more dating disasters or does it mean that over time the gap between the real you and the digital you may shrink because people will start to realise they need to show their true selves throughout both mediums. 

I don’t know the answers, but the guy I was talking to has actually started being himself more online and is already starting to see a better match of people interacting with him. Maybe there will eventually be a happy outcome to his search. 

Stranger Danger

Human conditioning for me is extremely fascinating. I was out somewhere recently and could see a mother scolding her child for talking to some stranger. It made me think about how as a sign of the times we have been conditioned to not talk to strangers. Quite often you even see adults cautious in public when it comes to talking with strangers. 

However the same apprehension doesn't seem to be the case when online. In fact due to technology it appears that we are actually more likely to engage with strangers whether that be on FB or text or any other digital platform. If you are really honest about it, there is often very little care given when interacting with strangers in this way. 

What makes this even more interesting is that at the same time as increasing the engagement with strangers online we often scream out when our privacy online is called into question like when FB updates it's privacy settings and opens up a part of our lives. So when you look at this you have to wonder who the idiots are. 

It appears that it all comes down to choice not necessarily caution or reality. If we chose to open up our lives to strangers it's ok, but if someone else does it that's not ok. However those that often have more public online presence seem to still dislike public interactions with strangers. It appears to be this perception that it's so much safer online than it is in public. However the reality is that engaging with strangers online is more dangerous in many ways than IRL. The reason is simple. Allowing people into your space online generally gives them access to more information about you. For example, if you add a friend to FB you are actually giving them access to your personal information such as photo's, DOB, email address, possibly employment and a lot more. Where IRL you may have a conversation with someone but you would rarely divulge all of that personal data. Also as we know an email address alone can give someone access to a lot of information about you. 

We as humans have also moved the meaning of a friend or even someone we know. After all, we may have a few conversations with someone online and all of a sudden we trust them. After all we have given them access to a lot of our data. Now I am not going to say this is all bad because divulging information can also have good results such as opening up job opportunities and other things. The key is to be aware that no matter what platform we use (whether it be online or IRL) there are dangers. Don't feel because you are hidden behind a monitor that you are safer because it simply isn't true. You may initially be safer from a physical attack but only in the short term. 

My tech knowledge is probably only a little higher than middle of the road and even I can track someone down very easily from their online presence. So just be mindful that every interaction you make online is a trail. I work on the assumption that everything I put online is public. This way I manage my data more efficiently. Of course I take precautions when putting information online to minimise access, but in the end I know it would only take one hacker to make everything public. As time goes on I can see protection of our data to be more and more important so it's better that we think of things now rather than later. 

Social Networking & Getting a Job

Over the past few weeks there have been a lot of stories in the news about potential employers requesting login credentials for social networking sites, email accounts etc from applicants.

I will talk about this but may piss a few people off with my views. In every respect I disagree with employers future or present requesting this information. Passwords and login details are private and need to remain that way. However in saying that, I have no problem with potential employers accessing anything about me that is in the public domain. As an employer I do online checks on prospective employees purely to ensure they can’t have a negative impact on the business reputation. Yes, I am one of those people that believe that people’s private lives are and do have a level of impact on the workplace. I’m mainly talking about people’s public life.

In saying that I believe strongly that if you as an employer (and from my perspective as an employee) it is essential that you have very clear and fair guidelines as to your social media policy. This does mean generic terms like not using or posting offensive material. That doesn’t cut it. You must be specific and define things. You can’t just talk about posting on social networking sites, you need to talk about private profiles versus public information. It’s important to ensure that no value judgements are made. You the writer must consider that not everyone thinks like you, has your values and morality. Even after writing your policy you need to build into it a level of flexibility.

As you know, I have this blog and how it is seen can be viewed differently by different audiences. For me it is a voice to share my beliefs and life. The pictures I post are about beauty through my eyes. However someone from an older generation or a more religious background may view it differently. To judge my blog based on anything other than my intent would be crossing a boundary.

On the other hand, if I was on here bragging about being convicted of a crime or something illegal than I deserve to lose my job. In that example they would already know because to do my job you go through serious levels of criminal history screening.

In the end though I have to accept that we are in an online age where anything that I post online publicly is just that public. The people that I feel will be most affected by this are those that haven’t even thought of this implication yet. Those that post thoughtless and stupid pictures and status updates all over the place. Once online it’s there forever and at this point in time a lot of particularly young people are posting things that should be very private. Not long ago I did a search online and discovered an innocent photo of myself on several sites that I don’t know. This photo was only ever posted to Facebook. Luckily for me it is just an innocent picture. But it does show how once you post something online it is there forever.