Social Networking Sites

The revolution of the internet has created a whole new world of e-commerce and the facilitation of communication via digital technologies. Social media networks are just one of the way that users can now interact, make and foster connections online. The web based services allow users to create their own profile on a public site, collect a list of users to share a connection and the ability to share content and view their friends profiles (Boyd & Ellison 2008, p. 211).

 

There are now  hundreds, possibly thousands, of social media networking sites to cater to all citizens as well as very specific social media networks that aim to target certain nationalities, races, religion or certain interest and hobbies. The communication platforms differ in the range of tools that users have including blogging and photo and video sharing.

Boyd & Ellison (2008, p.211) state that the emphasis of social media networking is on relationship initiation which is often through strangers but not always. Sometimes the connection is made from a physical connection and a user wishes to reconnect or maintain that relationship in an online context.

The most popular sites that tend to be mentioned are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat which are largely for interpersonal connections amongst friends and family. LinkedIn is a professional version of Facebook that is growing in popularity.  In a journal article Graham (2009, p. 184) writes that if you are not available online then you are missing out of the opportunity to network professionally and share ideas and solutions to problem.

This raises an interesting issue because whilst being on a social networking site obviously has its advantages it also raises the issue of ‘FOMO’ or fear of missing out.  Are we being pressured to conform to a society norm to jump online simply because our friends or colleagues are too and we don’t want to miss out. Are we losing our ability to make physical connections in our every day lives whether they personal or professional?

There are currently studies being undertaken by researchers in the field of psychology who are now looking at the “Facebook addiction” and the adverse impacts that it can have on peoples lives.  One of the studies by Dorit Alt in 2016 (p.1) looked at the way that Facebook addiction occurs when it begins to becomes a significant part of one’s life and daily routine to the point that it can change their behaviour and impact on a persons feelings and emotions.  The findings of college students showed that students that use social networking sites like Facebook can struggle when they attempt to solve problems (Alt 2016, p. 12).

The news isn’t all bad though, with the findings also concluding that there are many benefits to social networking sites such as a greater engagement in collaboration and online learning, facilitating relationships, boosting self- esteem and the sense of belonging which is perhaps where the ‘FOMO’ enters into the equation (Alt 2016, p12).

Alt, D 2016, ‘Students wellbeing, Fear of mission out and social media engagement for leisure in higher education learning environments’, Current Psychology, p. 1-11, viewed 29 July 2017, via SpringerLink database

Boyd, D, Ellison, N 2008, ‘Social networking sites: definition, history and scholarship’, Journal of Computer- Mediated Communication, vol. 13, no.1, p.210-230, viewed 30 July 2017, via Wiley Library Online database

Graham, L 2009 ‘What is social networking and how do I get clued into Linkedin?’ Journal of American Dietetic Association, vol. 109, no.1, p. 184, viewed 30 July 2017, via Science Direct database

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