This article presents a dialog on the impact of social network site on communication. These social network sites have enhanced communication through their intensive approach. It is illustrated by the communication enabled between the media houses, their audience and between important personalities and the common people. Development of relationships has been enhanced by social network. People use to socialize through face to face exchanges and collective gatherings before the internet was discovered. Many things have change though with the emergence of social network site such as my space, twitter, bebo, face book and others.
A lot of people can now keep in touch with families and friends all over the world, it is now more regular to know people online than in the real life; this is mostly within young adults and teenagers who have catapulted social network sites into the dominant force they are today. The days of instantaneously planning weekend outings and week nights are reducing. An individual will preferably decide on staying indoors and log on to their favorite social network site if the weather is not looking too good. People do still frequently go out with their families, colleagues and friends but at the same time they spend much of their time online, unlike in previous time when chat did not exist.
I believe there are a few reasons for individuals joining these social network sites. It could be the fact that it is easy to chat online. One is free to express him or herself more freely without the worry of facial expression present and tone in real life interaction, because people only see the words he or she writes. The majority of the social networking web design revolves within this region. The other motive could be that people are not as open to meeting with new people in face to face and flesh anymore. It is still very challenging for most confident individuals on walking up to a complete stranger. This becomes very hard when it is a person whom he or she admires; hence people do their introductions much easier online. Where a bad thing is likely to occur is when the person he or she is chatting with does not respond back. However, cynics argue that people should stop logging to Twitter, face book and start going out and meeting real people more and more. Their dispute is that social network junkies are staying indoors and neglecting face to face interaction which is ruining their communications skills. Furthermore, with everyone so busy with work, relationship and family it is much easier to communicate online than to wait for weeks for individuals to have a chance or space in their schedules.
The dependency factor that social networks seem to have is more practical. It can be very difficult to stop once an individual has started. The website designers have done a great job by creating websites that provide people an electronic life. For example, site like facebook does not allow the individual to delete someone’s’ profile. The only alternative he or she has is to deactivate his or her account, although he or she can always activate it at anytime. Which means that committed social network can easily be tempted to falling back into the habit of staying online for hours in the end.
The methods that people used in shopping have been changed by the internet, which include; banking, communication and transacting various deals thanks to the rapid growth of social network sites over the last two to three years. Because of this, an incredible change has been realized in the communication industry. It is an indication that the social network is highly becoming a mainstream culture that is being merged into the day to day lives of many people.
The wide media coverage that the industry enjoys has boosted the fast growth of social network; it’s perceived multiple uses and its perceived potential positive outcomes. It is estimated that fifty five percent of all teens online services access another fraction and social networks, the social networking websites are normally used by forty eight percent of teens. The diverse and new ways of communication is presented by the social network. This has been supported by the fact that most individuals can be in a position of accessing the internet through phone or personal computer. The social networks easily and simply create profile or create their online pages that are used as their contact worldwide. People can communicate with the ability in a more public way in which the information transmitted can be obtained with the other interested users or with their friends in a confidential manner much parallel to the use of email.
Many media houses have felt the collision of social networking that is used to reach their audience directly, which allows them to report what they have. Generally, media houses and communication has been transformed by the social network significantly. Many challenges have been realized from social network use in spite of its popularity. These also include malicious use of the different services provided and lack of privacy. Otherwise, a social networking site is the good medium of keeping in touch with family and friends. These sites can also be an obstruction sometimes. Those who stay on social network sites may affect their concentration span in some instances and also fail to build interpersonal skills. I would adverse the social network users to please use them with self control and a degree of restrain.
Social network sites’ definitions and their key features
Social network sites refer to facilities that are web-based, which offer a variety of services to people including enabling them to:
- Create a public or semi-public profiles within enclosed systems;
- Be able to reach the other users with whom they are connected online;
- View as well as navigate their list of connections and those that are made by the other users within the system.
The names that are used in the labeling of different connections possible per every site vary from one site to another. Since they were adopted as a means of communication, the social network sites have attracted several millions of users, of which a large number of them have included the use of different site into their everyday activities. Consequently, at the moment there are several social network sites with various technological affordances, and also which uphold a wide range of interests and practices (Johnson, 2009).
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While the major technological attributes of most of the social network sites are somewhat similar, the cultures that come up around the world following their use are fairly different. Most of the sites offer maintenance and support to the other social network that pre-existed, but others aim at linking friends and strangers based on the shared interests like political views, sports and several other activities. Nonetheless, other social network sites provide for the diverse audiences whereas others attract individuals depending on their common social interests like sexual backgrounds, religion, nationality identity and race. The different sites being used also vary in terms of the degree to which they enable the integration into their system, of the new information via services such as video or photo sharing, use of mobile connectivity, blogging and many more.
Very little study had been done on the social network sites although they bring about an extensive field of study with reference to the industry of communication. However, the available little information indicates that the success of these social network sites and communication via such sites greatly depends on the innovative mechanisms that are used by different sites to attract more users. Thus, with a large number of business organizations in the world currently adopting the use these social network sites for communication which include advertisement, it is more even important to have an understanding of the reason why a large number of people is joining these social network sites like MySpace and Facebook, as well as how they impact communication.
Social network sites and communication
The social network sites have greatly gained popularity during the past few years as the way of communication that is majorly and most commonly used by individuals, specifically the younger generation. This trend has actually left a number of older adults surprised with the appeal and nature of these services offered by the social network cites. The two commonly used social network sites which are MySpace and Facebook, have shown that a majority of their users fall in the age bracket of thirty. This is demonstrated by the social sites’ popularity as a way of communication among the college and high school students, whereby most of them have created their profiles on the sites (Johnson, 2009).
Although it is always argued that most interest groups on the social network sites are tangential and that individuals do not join them purposely to discuss common interest, but it is apparent that the public communications made by individuals on these sites cannot be refuted. The social network sites are used in the building of relationships simply via communication and this has substantially improved the way individuals get to know one another online. Most individuals, including librarians, spend much of their time on the online social network sites and it is important to carry out research in order to find out how these affects their channels of communication. The reason for the social network’s popularity perhaps is that unlike the traditional means of communication like e-mail, fax and letters, they allow the users to chat as long as the two of them are online at the same time, which is feasible with the speedily increasing access to the Internet.
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Although the social networks are used differently by individuals, we find that communication is the most significant feature of the activities. It is remarkable to note that whereas some of the users might not be familiar with one another; better communication via the social sites makes them establish enduring relationship, which they uphold by sharing short texts and photos. Most communication in the social networking sites is done between individuals who know one another, but about seventeen percent of the adults in these social sites use their profiles in communicating with individuals they do not know (Scott, 2000). The percentage is greater among the younger adults. It is further found that communication is the most common activity among the users of the social network cites. In view of this fact, it is also found that all the users of these social network cites greatly appreciate or value them as means of the improvement of communication, management of the present or existing relationships communicating to the old friends.
Social network sites and communication in relationships
Whereas intimate relationships were established through social events and various meetings in the past, it is now very easy for one to find for him or herself a partner just at the click of a button thanks to the social network sites (Romm, 2008). These social network sites have offered a forum for individuals to socialize and make friends or even get into passionate and romantic relationships, hence making the meeting of individuals a private activity and not the public activity that it used to be before. In terms of sexual desire, we find that the social network sites offer a new dimension from what was initially a private affair to a new perspective in the cyberspace.
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Hanson (2007) discusses cases whereby the social network sites have been used by individuals in finding partners or lovers. Individuals are even more and more finding mates on the social network sites, which lead to some of them marrying each other. However, what remains astounding is the way this ‘virtual’ communication succeeds in bringing together or matching couples. Moreover, it is not easy to make judgment as to why most individuals prefer using the online communication over the using of conventional meeting means. This is demonstrated by the large number of online dating services that these sites provide such as the Match.com.
Communication by important personalities
The perception of communication by individuals has been greatly changed by the social network sites. This can be demonstrated by the fact that even the most popular personality in the world are joining them by creating their own profiles in order to communicate to the works more easily and effectively. Example of prominent personalities who have joined these sites include the President of United States of America, Barrack Obama as well as Oprah Winfrey, a popular talk show host together with more celebrities like Aston Kutcher who openly joined one of the popular social sites known as Twitter. In countries like Australia, Twitter is regarded as an exceptional site.
These social network sites are very essential in that very important personalities are in a position of sharing ideas with the common people. For example, Individuals across the world are in a position of asking President Obama some questions regarding the United States of America, the Middle East and some other matters about the United States of America and receive personal response from the President of the United States himself (Thomas, 2002). This is a phenomenal and exceptional opportunity that actually would have not been experienced via the other means of communication which include newspapers, televisions, and e-mail. Furthermore, some other important personalities like Oprah Winfrey are in a position of communicating to their supporters all over the world and therefore get comments regarding their programs or shows, to help in possible improvements.
Considering the substantial interest that teens have developed in using these sites, recent changes in their communication patterns on the sites propose that they are fairly less tethered to their profiles even if they continue with the enthusiasm for social networking. Teens have shown a slim declined in their probability of using these social network sites in connecting with their friends. According to a research carried out by Hanson (2007), it was found that in about more than a third (thirty seven percent) of teens who are connected in social network send information to their friends everyday via the social network sites; which represents a decrease of forty two percent of the teens who said they did that in the previous year.
Moreover, fewer teens are sending group messages or private messages or even bulletins to their friends by using the social network sites. In the year 2006, down from sixty one percent, the teens were sending group messages, which is almost half of them in the social network. In the year 2006, down from sixty one percent, teens send private messages to friends, which is at least two-thirds of the teens using social network. Fewer of them are posting comments to their friend’s blogs using the social network site with fifty two percent of teens commenting on blogs down from seventy six percent in the year 2006. The decline in blogging commenting in social networking may also focus on current findings about the overall decline in blogging among the teens.
Posting comments either to walls picture or page remains well known with teens that use the social networks. Almost eighty six percent of teen social networks users post comments to their friend’s wall or page and eighty three have already added comments to a friend’s picture. Text messages or sending instant messages to friends through social network site has remained constant with about fifty eight percent of social networking users saying that they sent IMs or text. More than a thirty of thirty seven percent teens say they have joined on social network sites.
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These social networks have resulted to greater changes in the perception of communication by people. They have presented individuals a chance of exchanging or sharing ideas actively rather than using the ancient or traditional means of communication. Furthermore, they have established a connection between the common people and important personalities and between the media houses and their target audiences, consequently facilitating more dissemination of information that is time-bound. Communication via social network sites can never be relied up on as being the best means of sharing ideas since they can be easily misused by individuals with wicked intentions.