Friends or ‘Friends’??

In the previous lesson, as a class we read an article written by Randi Zuckerburg, the sister of the FaceBook founder, and I found it very interesting to the point that she was criticizing this new era of all social networking including her brother’s FaceBook had entirely changed the way people interact and how it has affected our daily ‘balance’ of attention. Smartphones have made our lives very convenient to the fact that we can use a variable of applications that empower our lives such as maps, which help us navigate to our destination, alarm clock/setting, which help us act in accordance to punctuality however, as the author denotes, it has made our lives more stressful to a certain extent. A smartphone or any technological device has great connectivity to the internet, which means, that we can access a social networking site at anytime we want to, as where in the past, it had only been when we stood in front of a computer. Not only is it that us users, connect to the networking site however, the networking sites automatically connect to us as well. Whenever a social activity that involves you goes on, the device automatically gives you a notification with a buzzing sound. Such as, when you receive a message or a poke on FaceBook, when you receive a favorite or a retweet on Twitter, or when you receive a daily push from your favorite news report site. Now this, has caused us, users, to spend a lot of our attention onto this ‘Online’ virtual world. In fact, as the author also mentions, all of this insta-connectivity and this new age of convenient mobile devices has indeed brought us to a level where we actually pay less attention to the natural world. She mentions an example of paying great attention to cat videos online, and less towards our actual cats. This had greatly reminded me of how when I take my dog out for a walk, I am always on my phone whilst walking, going on my FaceBook application and texting my ‘friends’ and multitasking. Also, her example of being at a concert but actually watching the live show through a smartphone screen just reminded of a recent live show I attended, where I mostly spent more time taking photos and uploading them to Instagram and Snapchat rather than enjoying the actual music and live performance. I went to the performance with a friend from school however, because of the acts of taking photos and uploading them to the online network had caused both of us to talk less to each other. I agree with the author to the point that we need to keep our eyes on our daily balance of attention, and particularly to the point that we need to restore our ability to be present at any single moment. I personally think using phones during dinner is immoral, as ‘dinner’ is one of those chances your family gets to unite and have a great communication. Therefore, I agree to the author’s idea/attempt, and her brother’s attempt in prioritising your attention to your real world friends or family. Most of all, I was moved when the author reminded about how all the connectivity the digital world has brought, had changed or disturbed, the way we embark our relationships with people.

“When deciding who to pay attention to, we need to understand the difference between our friends and our “friends”. It’s hard to remember now, but there was a time when “friend” was still only a noun and not yet a verb. Back then, our friends were the people closest to us, who we hung out with regularly, drank with, and confided in.”

Especially to the point where she mentions, “…was a time when ‘friend’ was still only a noun and not yet a verb.” I remember that the first time I had started using the internet so rapidly was when I became a middle school student. It had become more necessary for me to use the computers to finish my school homework and researches and I started to spend more time in front of a display. Then, because we all use the internet, we (the students in my grade) are introduced to the online networking sites. Since then, FaceBook has been involved in a major part of my communication with others. To be frank, I now even have people who I have never met in real life adding me on FaceBook, and I have confirmed their requests. In this case, I can conclude that it is very true that I cannot tell the difference if these ‘friends’ are really my friends or ‘friends’. After all, I would like to conclude that social networking has affected my life to a great extent and that I agree to the author randi Zuckerburg, that we must make an effort in spending our limited time and attention, to those we really care about.

After reading the article along with other articles on Teenage social networking and social media, we came across with the following discussion questions.

1. Does social media strengthen or weaken relationships between people?

One of the articles from the document, ‘Teenagers and social networking – it might actually be good for them’ suggest that, in contrary to what the social media is often perceived as; a tool that will make kids and teenagers unable to make face to face communications, there has been an evidence that show that online socialising does not prevent real life socialising however, it enhances it. The Oxford Internet Institute reports, that amongst their interview with British teenagers, they have found that as those teenagers gain more experience being online, they gain new communication skills. From this evidence, I think that social media can be one form of tool to build the communication skills of teenagers, which may eventually impact the social behaviours and interactions of these teenagers in the real world, finally strengthening their relationships with other people. Another statement is suggested that a study has shown, teenage participants of hobby sites were more likely to engage in real world volunteering. This may hint that the usage of internet will act as a catalyst towards encouraging teenagers to involve in volunteering, finally strengthening their relationships with others in their community. However, another article, ‘Is social media making you anti-social?’ reports about a college dropout, who had spent years on videogames and the internet, and upon his return to school, his ability to focus had to be restored, as well as his ability to read and write. Such example can show a circumstance where one can lose their communication ability, and relationships can weaken between other people. Overall, in my opinion, whether a social media will strengthen or weaken a relationship between people will depend on your purpose amongst using it.

2. To what extent is interaction via Facebook and other sites ‘real’ interaction?

On FaceBook, communication can be taken upon the form of text within a chat. This will involve interaction between two or more participants to some extent however, it will not reach the same comparable level as to real world interaction where one will talk face to face with another. This will be because in the text format, one will not be able to recognize some features of real world communication such as, tone and mood. As you are not able to see other’s face expression or hear their voice, you are given a limit to how much you can understand the other person. For such reasons, I think interaction via social sites can not be fully interpreted as for being a real interaction.

3. Does documenting our life in minute detail enrich it?

As mentioned previously with my example of uploading photos on Instagram whilst participating in an event with a real friend, such act prevents my interaction with the other friend. Although taking photos and uploading them will enable us to view this later and recall our memories, if we are obsessively adhered to our smartphones and are concentrated on uploading them on social network, we are not able to fully enjoy our moments. Therefore, I think that although I document my life very often, it does not enrich or benefit my life however, on the contrary it disturbs my attention towards the real world.

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