OPINION: Face(book) it: Our society has changed
Apr 01, 2012 (Reading Eagle - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Let's face it: Society has changed. So have our ways of communicating and interacting.
For many people, it's not face to face. It's Facebook to Facebook.
Social media, in many ways, have become our new neighborhoods. That's good and bad.
There was a time when neighborhoods were friendly places and neighbors formed the definition of neighborly. That hasn't all disappeared, but there is little doubt things have changed.
Many people keep to themselves in neighborhoods for various reasons. Some value their privacy, others keep their distance because of previous conflicts, and still others don't want to get too close in case conflicts develop that would lead to living in an uncomfortable neighborhood.
So they choose to live in a more isolated way.
Many people will wave as they pass, and some will stop and chat briefly. But I sense there is far less personal social interaction than I remember from my childhood.
Why have things changed?
The world moves at a much faster pace now than it did 50 years ago. Not only do we go places faster, but we also get information more quickly. Television started that quick reach, which then blasted off with the Internet.
With quick and fast also came mistrust. Too many times in an effort to be first, information lacks facts. So, who and what to believe became more confusing as the Internet expanded.
Then along came Facebook, Twitter and many other tag-along social networking websites.
Now people of all ages sometimes communicate more on their personal devices -- cellphones, PDAs, tablets -- than they do verbally and face to face. That has brought about not only the good and bad, but also the dangerous.
People share inappropriate videos, make hurtful comments (some of which are anonymous) and even prey on others.
We hear and read about a young man who committed suicide after his roommate streamed video of a physical encounter; numerous accounts of the fallout from cyberbullying, especially among teenagers; and many reports of predators using the Web to attract and set up inappropriate meetings with children. Rumors start and spread at mega speed.
Even the sharing of information, concerns and warnings that have good intentions can lead to unintended or unfortunate outcomes, as we recently learned when an Exeter Township resident allegedly was attacked by two residents after they heard about a potential child predator in their neighborhood.
There were concerns and dangers years ago, but the Web has made sharing of information much quicker and more complete. A much wider net is cast.
And what we share is much more detailed. Some people wonder why anyone would be interested in reading every thought that pops into others' heads. Much of it seems so insignificant. Some of it is.
Many people, especially those who are young and naive, often don't think about safety. They don't consider who is on the reading side of what they write or the viewing side of the pictures and videos they post. They want to be friends with everyone, and the more online friends they have, the more popular they feel.
Who really needs to have 500 online friends?
Especially, they often don't consider that what they share in cyberspace easily can spread beyond their control and last forever, impacting not only friends, family and safety, but also employment opportunities.
In spite of all those concerns, I use and value social media, including Facebook, because there are some real benefits to those sites.
I follow the activities of not only my children and grandchildren, but also the lives of my nieces and nephews who live a long distance away. It is family contact that otherwise likely would be lost.
I see their pictures as their own children grow. I read about activities, illnesses and even their ordinary daily activities.
I also follow a few basic rules, which I strongly recommend:
-- Don't accept friend requests from people you don't know and trust.
-- Don't post anything you wouldn't say to a room filled with all your friends.
-- Don't share plans for travel or extremely personal information.
I'm sure you can add others.
It all comes down to doing things in a safe and responsible way. So even though many things have changed, some things aren't any different than the way things used to be.
Contact Harry Deitz: 610-371-5004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
___ (c)2012 the Reading Eagle (Reading, Pa.) Visit the Reading Eagle (Reading,
Pa.) at readingeagle.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
[ Back To TMCnet.com's Homepage ]