Communicating & Connecting

Social networking sites are everywhere! There are different varieties of social networking sites that target different people and their interests. My friends always joke about me because I have so many different profiles that are all on different social networking sites. There are sites like Facebook and MySpace that get everyone involved including our bosses and parents. There are sites like Twitter that help keep us connected to our favorite brands and celebrities. There are also a variety of other social networking sites that serve other purposes like Pinterest, Tumlr, and Deviant Art. After reading the article “A Social Society: The Positive Effects of Communicating through Social Networking Sites” by Ebony Wheeler , I have to say I agree with the point she is trying to make.

This article focuses on how communication is improving in our world thanks to social networking websites. Wheeler focuses on how these websites can connect us to others based on common interests, provide entertainment, serve as therapeutic practices, and bridge the gap that distance can cause. Wheeler addresses the idea that “by forming groups of people with similar interests (particularly if the interest or hobby is not mainstream), social networking sites can create a sense of unity and belonging in people who might have previously felt alienated in society because of an inability to relate to local people.” Wheeler also mentions sites like Livewire that targets “10-21 year olds with serious illnesses and disabilities,” in order to prove that social networking can provide support and can serve as a type of therapy because it can become a way to tell people who understand what you’re going through your problems. As many people already know, Wheeler mentions the ways that social networking sites keep us connected with people who are far away.

Keeping in touch with family members or friends is where I see the most impact towards modern day communication. Before coming to college, I was concerned with keeping touch with all of my friends. I was tortured by the idea of never seeing certain people again. When the time came and I finally got to college I realized that all of my friends were right there with me, in my laptop, on my Facebook and Twitter. I see their status updates and photos and feel like I haven’t even left home. I also know tons of people who use social networking to keep in touch with loved ones in the armed forces that are far away. For example, my cousin is in the army and stationed in Seattle, Washington. Anyone in my family can log onto Facebook and use the chat feature or the video chat feature to see how he’s doing. They can also see pictures posted by his wife of their newborn baby. It’s tough when you can’t be with loved ones because of various reasons, but social networking can make you feel like you know what’s going on in their lives and keep you from missing out on important news.

Another way social networking keeps people from missing out on important news is simply by keeping us informed. On my Twitter account I follow other Twitter accounts that are run by CNN, E! Entertainment, or The Frederick News Post. Anytime I log on I see tweets from these companies. Sometimes they’re articles that didn’t even make it to the actual print version of the paper! Updates like these definitely keep me informed and the majority of the time they’re my main source of news.

Not only can they be my main source of news, they connect me with others who have similar interests. Sites like Tumblr and Pinterest are totally based on what you like. If I was an artist I could use Deviant Art or if I was sick I could use LiveWire or Caringbridge. The focus on various interests or circumstances is what has made these sites so popular. They are a way to connect with people all over the world who love art like you do, or fashion, or even have the same disease. While that might be kind of a sad way to look at things, it’s not. If you’re a 16 year old with cancer, you can connect with other 16 year olds who have cancer and use them as an alternate support system. They know what you’re going through and might have even gone through your situation before. You can talk to the people you meet, get advice from them, and share stories. This kind of connection can be very therapeutic whether you’re sick or not. Even people who are in full health are connecting with people who share their interests and can feel the therapeutic effects of social networking.

I personally think that social networking sites are great for communication in the technologic age that we live in, but there are many critics who disagree that have valid points. The main points that I have to agree with are that social networking sites prevent people from actually being social and they are starting to be hazards when looking for jobs. People are on social networks ALL the time instead of actually talking to people face to face and going out and doing stuff. When it comes to jobs, employers are starting to look at social networking profiles as a way to see who they want to hire and who they don’t. Despite some of the bad things resulting from Social networking sites, you just can’t ignore their benefits.

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