Social Media: use now – pay later

The marvels of modern communication via the internet are proving to be a double edged sword as we move into new spheres at an ever increasing rate.  Email, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Squidoo and a plethora of other applications are instantly accessible on ipads, iphones and Blackberries and have us connected globally 24/7.

The benefits of the new wave are beyond the dreams of earlier generations. They have irrevocably changed the way we live, work, love, fight, learn and play. The technologies are affordable, accessible, universal and instant.

Whilst baby-boomers are daunted with every instruction book accompanying new devices pre-schoolers accept them as a natural accessory.

‘I saw you at the supermarket’ said the teenager daughter of a friend on Facebook.  ‘You should have come over and said hello’ was the posted response.  A grandmother checking her grandson’s Facebook page chastises him for a message he posted to his friends.  She is ‘unfriended’. 

It’s hard to appreciate the implications of the dehumanising of our social relationships in this way.

It’s equally as hard to anticipate the longer term consequences on what we might say to a friend, colleague or protagonist in fit of bother.  It wasn’t a problem in the past – we could just tear up the letter or nick the carbon copy and move on.  Not any more – every word, phrase and missive we send is captured by big-brother and will remain tattooed within our DNA forever.  They will be read by future friends, lovers, work colleagues, bosses, your kids and their kids.  It’s enough to make one want to reach for the biro and notebook – the old-fashioned paper one.

Rebellious teenagers – and they all are at some stage –  don’t often think of these implications when dealing with the pressure of their peers.  But we can be sure there will be some embarrassing job interviews for some in a few years time!

Whilst the technology is certainly affordable the sacrifice of our personal privacy may not be.

Cyber-bullying is emerging as a dark side of social networks.  Teen suicides have recently been reported as the result of the invasion of their privacy.  Exposure to scams, cyber-stalkers, pornography and other sinister activities are as big a threat as drugs to vulnerable young minds.

Parents and teachers face a daunting challenge in communicating the need to communicate responsibly in the new cyber era.  They not only have to worry about the impact of junk food on the physical condition of their children – they now have to worry about the negative effects of junk information and junk relationships on their wellbeing.

It’s almost a relief to be a luddite who is satisfied with the odd Google after reading the papers.

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