Social networking sites are one of the latest big deals on the Internet. It seems as though owning a straight-ahead personal website is now considered somewhat passe. Is this possibly because they take greater effort in constructing?
Facebook, often favoured by students, MySpace which offers opportunities to promote your band, organisation or various talents and Bebo, tending to be loved by the younger set, offer an easy gateway and presence onto the world wide web. In but a few minutes, one is proclaiming his or her favourite colour, band or latest profound thoughts to a network of friends but there are concerns about these sites
Although thousands of new personal pages appear every day on the Internet, there are several noted reservations about this new phenomenon. Security for young people is one of those concerns. It might be offered that such sites are suitable hunting ground for less savoury characters searching for young people on the Net. Certainly many personal details are routinely offered up for consumption on them, including images of the people who own the sites.
Having recently embraced Facebook after having several invites from fellow students and acquaintance, I have attempted to keep an open mind about the subject. Certainly the sites have their uses. The allow friends to keep in touch of course, they also allow people to become friends of friends of friends, though I’m not convinced how often this might happen. The personal ‘wall-to-wall’ messaging can be fun whilst one is always conscious that ones words are visible to other people. Perhaps indeed this is part of the appeal, a slight narcissism though this should not be taken as a serious criticism when we think of say, blogging as a comparison for example. Some of the applications offered are interesting, music players etc, whilst some are undoubtedly facile.
Personally my biggest criticism of Facebook in particular and the genre in general is that they are almost necessarily ‘thin’ in content. For anyone who truly feels the need to express themselves in an individual way over the Net they do not provide the best conduit. In my opinion blogs and the various Internet messageboards and forums present a superior environment for that activity and need. On the other hand, what the networking sites provide is an environment to find people with not only similar interests as do messageboards for instance, but also others who have different interest but are connected by friendship only.
I’ll reserve judgement on networking sites for the moment and at the same time watch with interest what happens in this ever-expanding corner of the Internet.