In modern times, people are interacting in many different ways, some by telephone, some by E-mail and some by chatting networks. Every day, people are using the computer to talk with one another and social networking sites are a big reason for this. Facebook, one of the largest social networks in the world, has been very important in letting people communicate with one another easier. It is also rapidly changing the academic discussion of communications.
Because society is communicating over the internet, it is much easier to develop and build old and new relationships. But, there are also some negative aspects of talking to people online that you do not know very well. While social networks like Facebook allow people to be more sociable and expand their relationships, this type of communication can have problems related to privacy and safety. Read the following sample and consider buying a research paper from Ultius that can be used as a model or additional reference.
What is Facebook and why is it different?
Facebook is a tool that lets people use and share their information with others easier. Before social networking sites, people talked to each other through mail, phone and face to face meetings. With the huge number of people using computers and the internet today, a lot of them rely on social networking sites to keep up to date with their friends. Since 2004, Facebook has grown from being on one school to having over 200 million people in their network by 2009 (Neuert 1).
According to Patricia Greenfield, Facebook is one of many sites that lets people build online profiles, talk to each other privately or publicly and share different types of media like pictures and videos (Greenfield 121). Facebook has also become very popular among people of different age groups. According to Levi Baker’s studying, around 65% of teenagers and 35% of grown adults use one social networking site, like Facebook (Baker, 875).
This means that people now have more opportunities to share information with not just people close to them. People can also share with others that are far away. Meeting new people that you have never met in person is also possible.
People can use Facebook for many different reasons: to meet new people, to talk to people you used to know and to keep up to date with each other. Most people use the service to talk to people they already know and strengthen their relationship. As Rick Nauert put it,
“the purpose is to reinforce established friendships and form bonds with new friends” (Nauert 1).
The reason it is so popular is because when you are keeping up with people, what they are sharing is changing (Nauert 1).
It is not like you are seeing the same thing over and over again; instead, new content generated from your friends and connections is being updated constantly. This new content is what draws people in to keep them checking up on their friends. Greenfield stated that
“Eighty percent of those surveyed reported using the Internet to maintain existing friendship networks. Participants who communicated more often on the Internet felt closer to existing friends than those who did not” (Greenfield 126).
So, we see that social networking sites like Facebook are allowing people to keep in touch with those around them. People who use sites like these also feel closer to their friends. Since people are closer when communicating online, they are thus more sociable with each other. This is a positive benefit of using Facebook to connect with your friends that are close by.
Facebook helps maintain weak ties
Facebook is also helpful in maintaining friendships with people that you are not close to or have little contact with. In an offline setting, we are geographically limited to who we can and cannot see and talk to. This means that even though we have friends in one area, we are not guaranteed to keep up with them if we move. Luckily,
“With the advent of today’s popular social networking sites, video and photo sharing sites, and blogs, adolescents may again connect and interact with people who are not a part of their offline lives” (Greenfield 130).
While people may come and go in life, there is now an alternative to just losing past relationships. This is possible because Facebook allows a cheap and easy way to still hold on to those relationships (Ellison 1162). A great example is keeping in touch with your high school friends. Since people go to different colleges and move away, it would be difficult to catch up on a regular basis with phone calls every day. But since people can see status updates and pictures, it is much more convenient.
In fact, people that use Facebook communicate with people they rarely see 82% of the time (Greenfield 130). This means that those relationships do not have to go away. This example illustrates how Facebook fosters social development by allowing people to be more social and with people they normally can’t be with and to expand their relationship.
Building new relationships
Facebook can also be great for new relationships as well. Facebook was built around virtual communities such as colleges, clubs and groups. Within these groups, there is a lot of opportunity to meet others that you would not usually have a chance in meeting. The profile is like the ice breaker that lets you take a first look at the person’s life. You can see who their friends are, what interests they have and what they are saying everyday via their status update.
Basically, the profile page gives a huge amount of personal information about the person to start with (Ellison 1143). One example is people who meet others as potential romantic partners. Greenfield clearly outlined that
“[students] have been using Facebook to check out people they had met as prospective dates. Uses such as checking out people they have met socially or in class or others who live in their dorm are all ranked relatively highly” (131).
The writer also stated that 41% of people that they have in their friend list also have meetings in person as opposed to just talking to them online (131). This means that people that meet others using Facebook don’t just talk to them online but also in person. A last good example is the number of friends that people have online compared to friends we have in real life.
“For example, for a teen to have 150-300 ‘friends’ would have been unheard of before social networking” (Greenfield 136).
Meeting new people is a really easy option when using Facebook. As people form groups and virtual hobbies with others online, they are exposed to their profiles. These profiles start the “friending” process and then eventually leads to in person interactions.
Overcoming shy behavior via Facebook
Many people struggle with approaching others if they do not know them, leading them never to interact with that person, but social networks such as Facebook could help these problems of shyness. As mentioned in the article by Michael S. Rosenwald
“Shy people have difficulty finding topics to talk about…Facebook gives you a starting point” (Rosenwald 1).
This is very true as many people do not know how to start a conversation with someone they do not know; as with social networks, it is as simple as just saying “hi”, and the conversation will start automatically. While on the other hand, if the person has to go face to face and start a conversation, many times it does not go all that well. This is possible because shy people tend to get the most out of sites like Facebook out of the fact that it is not as socially risky (Baker 876).
Greenfield also agreed that “participants who felt that online communication was more effective for self-disclosure also reported feeling closer to their offline friends” (126). Shy people can feel a lot more easy-going when they are talking to others online. They don’t have to worry about making huge mistakes or feeling bad about themselves. Thus, Facebook is a great place if you are shy and want to even talk to people that are around you. Since the fear of making mistakes is not there when they are online, shy people can feel a lot more comfortable.
This makes a huge impact on people that are too shy to interact with others. Approaching people through a social network is much easier than having to do it in person, and it is the beginning of having a relationship with that person, since they can start talking by these networks, and then slowly getting to know each other face to face. An example of this would be a teenage kid in school who likes a girl in the lower grade.
The kid knows who the girl is, but has never had any type of interaction with her. By becoming friends on Facebook, he can now start a relationship through this media, and start to talk to her through the computer, which will lead him to meet her in school and start a relationship. This is a perfect example of how Facebook is a really good thing for certain people. Without it, these people would not have other good choices in interaction.
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Privacy and safety concerns with social networks
While Facebook gives these great chances to make friends and keep in touch, the problems of privacy and being made fun of are still existent (known as cyber bullying). Just like people pick on each other in person, the internet is another place where this can happen to. We read all the time that kids are made fun of because they are gay or look different. These problems are just the same in the real world like they are online. Greenfield’s research stated that
“the findings suggest that students’ role as victim and perpetrator of bullying in the offline world predicted their role in electronic bullying” (128).
As mentioned, being on the internet doesn’t stop people from being cruel to each other. Anyone can just go on someone’s group and make jokes about them about anything they want to. In a similar way, if everything is on the internet about you, people you don’t want to look at your information can still find ways to see it. Not everyone wants their parents to see them drinking and going out to parties, especially if they are not 21.
These problems make Facebook a difficult thing to manage and gives evidence of why it is not such a great communication tool to use.
However, Facebook does give you privacy controls over the information that you share. You can really easy just make it so that when people try to find you via search, not everything comes up. Greenfield stated that
“searches on the Facebook network or on search engines reveal only a users name, the networks they belong to, and their profile picture thumbnail” (123).
This is a great way to hide information and other stuff that you do not want to give out to random strangers. Facebook gives you the choice and control over what you want to share with others. As a good example, if you have a job and your boss adds you as a friend, you may feel like you have to accept it. But, you may not want your boss to see all the stuff that you do on your free time.
So, you can choose to just show to them specifically what you want them to see. This is an easy way to hide stuff that is personal or potentially damaging to you in anyway. This is only possible because
“for communication forms such as blogs and social networking utilities, users have complete control over the extent to which their entries or profiles are public or private” (Greenfield 123).
This takes care of most of the privacy and security concerns with other people seeing your profile. With the control that Facebook gives you over your profile, you do not have to worry about the wrong people seeing what you are doing every day. It does not matter if it is a complete stranger or your own mother, your information that you put up is still your own in terms of control.
Sex offenders on Facebook
Another safety risk that is not such a big deal in the Facebook site is danger of sex offenders. It is an obvious concern that people who are older and not right in the head shouldn’t talk to young people and try to engage in sex with them. But as much as people talk about them being a bad problem, the case does not apply in the all online interactions. Bruce Bower’s article talked about how it isn’t as common for it to happen on sites like MySpace and Facebook.
“found that teens’ sue of social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook did not increase their likelihood of being contacted by a sex offender” (Bower 118).
This shows that just because the news and other people talk about it being dangerous, does not mean that it is so. Rather than assuming that sex offenders look to kids on Facebook to have sex with them, it is important to look at the facts. Bower argued that
“adult offenders primarily use instant messages, E-Mail, and chat rooms to meet and develop intimate relationships with adolescent victims” (Bower 118).
If the internet in general is a dangerous place for kids, it is not ok to assume that it is true for all aspects of it. These types of criminals don’t even use Facebook as the main way to do terrible things. Instead, they use other types of communication that is not controlled as much. However, since Facebook is a much more tightly controlled type of space to communicate in, it does not have the same dangers.
Lastly, some may argue that social networks could affect people by having fewer face to face relationships, since they can get addicted to talking on the computer and only socializing via internet. This is incorrect since being able to know people faster and easier by these networks will help getting to know more people and will help the social life of that person.
Just because you are on the internet and on Facebook does not mean that you are losing interactions with other people. In Greenfield’s article, a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found evidence that went against this. The study reported that
“48% of online teens believe that the Internet has improved their relationships with friends” and that “61% feel that time online does not take away from time spent with friends” (126).
This isn’t just a fact or statistic, there is evidence for this too. Talking to one another online is easier because we don’t have to worry about feeling stupid about sharing personal things. Just like it helps shy kids deal with difficult situations, it helps others too with people they interact with. It may be easier to ask certain questions or have talks online because it takes out the aspect where people can be embarrassed (read another Ultius research paper on social media).
As we have seen, Facebook is a social networking site that allows people to communicate with each other and expand our relationships, even if the people are close friends, old friends that we don’t see as much or new people. However, there are negative parts to it because of the privacy and security risks of other people seeing your information and contacting you. Most people talk to others that are close to them and they see face to face often.
Facebook also lets you talk to people that you used to spend time with but moved on in life by going to college or moving to a different place. With mutual interests, groups and friends, you can also meet new people that you are interested in. Their profile gives a lot of information about them to help you get started. Even for shy people, talking to others online makes it much easier. It takes out the pressure and possible embarrassment of making mistakes. Despite this, the risk of privacy and safety are still there. People claim that others can see your profile even if you don’t want them to.
But, this is not true since Facebook lets you control your information. Also, the problems of sex offenders and danger is not the same on Facebook as it is on chat rooms and text messaging. This makes Facebook a safe place to communicate and share with each other. Lastly, people who talk online instead of face to face don’t talk to friends less. Talking online is still communication, just in a different type of way.
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Baker, Levi, and Debra Oswald. “Shyness and online social networking service.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 27.7 (2010): 873-889. Sage Publications. Web. 19 Apr. 2011. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0265407510375261>
Bower, Bruce. “Internet Seduction: Online Sex Offenders Prey on At-Risk Teens.” Science News 173.8 (2008): 118. JSTOR. Web. 19 Apr. 2011.
Ellison, Nicole, Charles Steinfeld, and Cliff Lampe. “The Benefits of Facebook ‘Friends:’ Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12 (2007): 1143-1168. Print.
Greenfield, Patricia, and Kaveri Subrahmanyam. “Online Communication and Adolescent Relationships.” The Future of Children 18.1 (2008): 119-146. JSTOR. Web. 19 Apr. 2011.
Nauert, Rick. “Relationships on Facebook, Social Networks.” Psych Central. University of Kansas, 31 Mar. 2009. Web. 20 Apr. 2011. https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/03/31/relationships-on-facebook-social-networks/5060.htmll>.
Rosenwald, Michale. “Can Facebook Help Overcome Shyness?.” Washington Post [Washington DC] 13 Feb. 2011: 1-2. Web. 19 Apr. 2011. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/from-social-networking-to-just-plain-old-social/2011/02/12/ABqR8yF_story.html?utm_term=.bf88c14485e3>