The Evolution of Cyberspace into Social Media

The increasing power of technology continues to improve our day to day lives in various aspects. Our cell phones now act as miniature computers to help provide you with G.P.S. for lengthy car rides, apps for enjoyment and business, as well as various social media streams which allow us to connect with the vastness of the internet. Although at first it seems as though all of these would be positives when discussing the power of cyberspace, as Sherry Turkle sees it, this is becoming a large problem that our generation must face in order to save human relationships. Sherry states in her New York Times article from 2012 “One sees the same thing: we are together, but each of us in our own bubble, furiously connected to keyboards and tiny touch screens. ” It has escalated to the point where young people growing up do not know the proper way to communicate with one another face to face, as Sherry states in the same New York Times article “A 16-year-old boy who relies on texting for almost everything says almost wistfully, Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I’d like to learn how to have a conversation.” This is the increasing issue with technology, and it stems mainly from the growth in social media over the past 5-10 years.

Social media is a way people can stay connected to the globe without having to look further than the apps on their phone. Famous social media sites include Facebook, Twitter and Instagram among many more. The issue regarding social media/cyberspace stems further than just the loss of proper communication, but also creates a lack of privacy for individuals who use them. Although social media has only expanded vastly just recently, it follows a platform which has made cyberspace so popular since its arrival. As She stated in a journal review in 1999 for Contemporary Sociology, long before the emergence of social media, “One key element of online life and its impact on identity: the creation and projection of constructed personae into virtual space.” This seems as though she was almost predicting the possible emergence of social media, but at the time this journal article was written, she was referring to chat-rooms and other platforms of that nature. The problem arising is that these individuals are so focused on their virtual personae, they do not realize the loss of privacy they are encountering. The more information uploaded to an individuals virtual personae, the more their own privacy is threatened. The reason people are so intertwined with social media is because it “gives us the illusion of friendship, without the demands of companionship.” Sherry Turkle hits it right on the head with that last quote from TED2012, people will trade their lack of privacy, for the feeling of friendship they encounter in cyberspace constantly.

imagesHaving heard much from Sherry Turkle and her vision of cyberspace and the problems it creates, I’d like to now share my own personal beliefs on how to avoid disrupting your privacy while maintaining key online friendships which people desire. Firstly, there must be a balance of public, private and personal in relation to social media. My personal relationships stay personal, I never advertise personal encounters, share plans with social media or provide my location. Information I share with the public on social media sites is simple information of very little importance such as opinions on sports, movies, music or other events that have occurred. Neither of these involve sharing personal or private information, but rather just generic opinions. When presenting myself on social media, I use as little information as possible. I never provide my full name, never have a display picture of myself, and post no information in my bio regarding who I am. I enjoy staying anonymous, with only close personal friends knowing who the twitter account belongs to. This relates back to Turkle’s argument from 1999 where she states “one has the choice of being known only by one’s chosen “handle” this is how I choose to present myself. The reason why I am so secretive with my identity on social media is the fact that these sites are under constant surveillance. The fact that the information I post is free for anyone to view and interpret, causes me to be very hesitant to post anything which could shatter my image.

To conclude, the internet has provided the world with great tools to stay in touch with one another, and has the power to make such a vast globe seem so small. Although there are many positives, it is important to understand the harm cyberspace, in particular social media, can cause. The decaying of face to face communication is becoming increasingly harmful to our society, and therefore I place importance on keeping personal relationships private and personal, not on the internet for all to see, but regularly meeting with friends and family to engage socially in person. In addition, the invasion of privacy associated with social media sites leads me to keep information I post as vague as possible, keeping personal information to myself, and sharing only basic views and opinions on leisure matters such as sports, music and movies. I think people are getting too comfortable with social media sites, posting way too much information and in turn severely decreasing their privacy.

Thank-You for Reading.

References:

Turkle, S. (1999). Looking Toward Cyberspace: Beyond Grounded Sociology.  Contemporary Sociology, 28(6), 643-648.

Turkle, Sherry. (2012). “The Flight from Conversation” in The New York Times. pp. SR1

Turkle, Sherry. “http://blog.ted.com/2012/03/01/places-we-dont-want-to-go-sherry-turkle-at-ted2012/”

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5 thoughts on “The Evolution of Cyberspace into Social Media

  1. While I like a lot of Turkle’s observations, I’d like to challenge the degree to which we do or do not connect to others and how negative or not that is. Many of the readings highlight how people use social media often to connect with people they already know, and as such social media can be seen as something akin to long telephone calls. Not to mention the amount of people who have met online and gotten married. But yes, I find it hard to dispute Turkle’s overall argument is not occurring.

  2. I admire you keeping face-to-faces interactions with friends and not relying on the internet as a source of connection. The internet can extremely useful and make our lives so much better as you mentioned with new technologies, and having mini computers in our pockets. With the positive there is negative for safety is a major issue when it comes to putting yourself online. I respect your choice to keep information you put online minimal. I try my best to keep some things private. I wish others would do the same.

  3. We have never been more connected and isolated. we have more access to each other than we know what do with. More and more people are opting for the impersonal yet validating sense of engagement that social media hubs allow.
    I’m not saying this is bad nor good, its just what it is.

  4. I agree with you that keeping personal information such as relationships, location and any implicating information in general private. Facebook is now a corporation and although they claim that your information is private and will never be sold, there’s definitely loop holes around their “privacy settings.” Aside from the claim that our information is private, Facebook makes the privacy settings of your page SO complicated that it’s hard to even understand what you’re doing with your own information.

  5. Good post! I think my main question for you is what do you think you will do as the possibility of being anonymous on the internet continues to decrease? Fifteen years ago no site could make you disclose your personal info as a condition of using their service; now sites like Facebook aggressively try to make sure people provide a lot of info about themselves. Facebook is becoming more and more connected to other sites (through comment sections and registration), and Google is doing a similar thing where they merge all of their services under one linked master account. It looks like the internet is going in a direction where that choice to be anonymous online will be harder and harder to keep up.

    P.S. I was late putting my blog together, so I’m not in a group yet. If you would have time to say something about my post so I can complete the assignment, I would appreciate it a lot!

    http://chensdigitalmediablog.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/anonymous-vs-public-internet/

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