Social Media: A necessary evil?

Social media is erupting in all age groups, and we are slowly discovering how to operate within its realm.  Facebook currently has over 800 million users ( and when Boyd wrote her article there were only  500 million users.  These users have the ability to shape and customize their social media experience.  Some users may take advantage of the opportunities that come with social networking, while some may succumb to the pitfalls.

It is important to be informed about how social media works and how to use it in a responsible way.  Social media, Facebook specifically, is evolving everyday.  In 2004 it had a wholly different structure and, at least for me, served a very different purpose.  The potential social media has for things other than simple social encounters is great.  I also never knew how valuable twitter could be as a social media tool.  Social media can be a wonderful tool  and a great way to connect with friends if it is used correctly and responsibly.

Boyd talked about teens disregard for behavior on social media sites, and how educators could use it as a tool to enhance their educational experience.  This struck a chord with me because for the first time since I have had Facebook I am using not only for social purposes but as well as for academic purposes.  Not only do students in iMedia use it to connect about assignments but there have been a few instances where the professors have engaged us as well.  It has actually shaped the way I now use Facebook, I go straight to the iMedia pages because more often than not people are asking questions about assignments or posting stories relevant to interactive media.  Using social media in tandem with education is a great way to engage students and to keep them involved after the school day is over.

Boyd talks about how younger generations use social media somewhat haphazardly.  When one is typing away at home on their computer and it does not seem like there would be any concern or worry about who is seeing this information or how long it will remain.  The young generation of social media users have grown up with technology and social media intertwined in their lives, and they are not thinking about the possible repercussions of their actions.  For them social media could be a detriment in some cases, and learning how to conduct oneself in a social media setting is important.

Not only do people need to be careful about what they post in social media but they also need to be informed about how social networking sites are utilizing their information and how they might be taking advantage of users privacy.  The talk with Eva Galprin really made me think about what information I am sharing, prior to this my only concern was keeping my information private to other users, however any information that is given to Facebook is theirs forever.  It really makes me wonder why everyone (with a few exceptions) is so blindly trusting to these sites.  Its a big brother situation that we are willingly jumping into, and the vast majority of people are not very well informed.  It will be interesting to see how this privacy issue plays out in the future, and if users will stand up to change the way things are.

It is obvious that social media can be a great thing if used responsibly.  However there are several aspects of it that users need to be aware of in order to understand what they are sharing with the world.  Being informed and understanding what you are sharing and with whom is the most important part of contributing to a social media site, but ultimately it is up to the user as to how they navigate social media.


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