The Pros, Cons, Ins, and Outs of Social Networks – the Perspective of a Digital Media-Savvy College Student

Social networks are essential at this point to keep in touch with others (it’s one of the first things people ask for when they meet, besides phone numbers!) efficiently as we are all part of a network or several networks due to technological advancement and our ever-changing society (especially in this technologically-born-and-bred generation), but what makes them such a useful tool in our abilities to communicate? Even more importantly than that, what about these networks is counterproductive to our social growth? In this post, I’d like to take a second to analyze the networks I participate in from my perspective to bring to light the positives and negatives of these online communities.

Excuse my sarcasm. If you don’t like it, look away.

A view of Facebook's logo May 10, 2012 i

Facebook

Real-Life Uses: Telling and showing everyone your inner “wild child”, mentally documenting all the places your friends have gone without you this week, and sharing “”Like” this if you love -insert subject here that is legitimately unaffected by your “like” on Facebook-” pictures. Oh, and occasionally dropping in to say “hello” to people that you speak so little to that you’re practically strangers or initiating unwarranted booty calls.

Sparknotes: “How many times are you going to go clubbing out on a weekday? Or are all of those photos from just last night? Why didn’t you invite me? You said you weren’t going to the club until this weekend….”

Pros – Facebook was the immediate, significantly better competitor of MySpace, it’s failed predecessor. It provided a simple, friendly (overly friendly) interface for users that got sick and tired of the dying Myspace community (“GOD I HATE MY MYSPACE FRIENDS. THEY SUCK. THEY’D BE SO MUCH COOLER IF THEY WERE STILL MY FRIENDS, BUT SOMEWHERE ELSE!”) that were still looking for ways to keep in touch with each other (and who all followed each other into this new world of stalking–I mean…..Facebook). Facebook has its perks. You can create groups easily, which is convenient for people to bond over their unhealthy obsessions with Chipotle and rave culture, but it is also a great tool for users that want to associate with people that work in the same field (potentially to bond over the struggles that only they would know, and possibly to practice empathy?). Or another great feature would be the ease of information transfer, so you can read up on your crush’s latest (and definitely greatest) post to your mutual friend’s profile discussing the crazy party he attended last weekend that he claims he doesn’t remember because he was “sooooo wasted”. Or something.

Cons – I don’t know if you caught the vibe that I let on before, but I’ll certainly reiterate. Facebook is great. It is, I promise. But it’s getting creepy. The latest feature that they released (or what I believe to be the latest notable feature) is the ability to track how close in proximity people are to your location and to share your location as well. It’s so gross how invasive this can be, and you know that this tool could be used for so many more ways that aren’t as innocent as the way it was meant to be used (unless stalking was the full intention. In that case, bravo. You’ve won.).

Another fault of Facebook (and of course, this isn’t little old Facebook’s fault) is the duck-face-peace-sign combination in pictures (usually profile pictures) that transferred from the death of Myspace. It’s quite a shame, really. But I don’t penalize those who use the combination ironically, as long as the irony is known. Let that be known.

Instagram

ig-logo

Real-Life Uses: Selfie storage and meal documentation.

Sparknotes: “We all suddenly know your dietary habits. Really well. A little too well, since we haven’t talked since the third grade. Your toilet schedule would be nice to know, too, if you could post that as well.”

Pros – I love being able to just post photos if I want to. If I want to be mysterious and awesome (not that I’m not already, as you already know–HEY, DON’T LAUGH!), I can “live life dangerously” and post a photo with no context in the caption and it will be all good and dandy. Hah. But really, I think it’s a neat network. I enjoy the fact that you can “try on” a bunch of effects on your photographs before you settle with one, and that as of late, Instagram has provided a sick new set of customizations for photographs, from contrast to sharpening. It looks like they’re headed in the right direction, so I don’t see an account cancelation induced by disappointment in my near future.

Cons – You can’t edit comments, so that nasty comment you left in a fury of bitter hatred is licked and sealed. The damage has been done, and there will be no take-backs to be had. Ouch. I hope it was worth it. Maybe that’s the penalty for getting “white girl wasted” and angry in combination. I do think, on a more serious note, that reporting should be taken a lot more seriously on Insta, as I have seen several accounts become compromised with radio silence from the support staff for days to even weeks before the problem was fixed. Not only that, but people report the most ridiculous material, too, on there which bugs me. The report button is not meant to be a play thing. No bueno.

Twitter

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Real-Life Uses: An everyday Battle of the Sexes and lots of sexually-oriented, anonymous retaliation submissions to Collegefession. And of course, the cheesy love quotes and the “LOVE CAN GO BURN IN AN ETERNAL PIT OF FIRE” quotes, both equally enjoyable.

Sparknotes: “I’m a strong, independent -insert racial label that has nothing to do with independence- woman who don’t need no man. Unless he’ll buy me flowers, call me first (beat me to it, please!), and text me cute things every living, breathing minute of every day. Then I say, “Hell Yes! Come here, my Prince Charming!” But only then. These terms are non-negotiable.”

Pros –  Many of the organizations I already “follow” have a Twitter, so following them on there allows me to herd them all into one place. Is that it? Yeah, I think that’s about it. I don’t use Twitter that much (and this is your queue to gasp dramatically and inquire as to why I haven’t embraced this beautiful thing wholeheartedly within my own life), because I have yet to purge my profile of all the users that spam my dashboard with cliche quote vomit. It’s not Twitter’s fault, so don’t get it twisted. If you like Twitter, continue tweeting on to your heart’s content.

Cons – My dashboard is filled with a bunch of garbage (I want to be nice, but I just…can’t). I probably look at 1% of the material on there, if I even go on Twitter. All people ever retweet are 20-page slideshows (when realistically speaking, I only clicked the link in the hopes of reading ONE STORY on said topic), nudes (or semi-nudes), and anonymous confessions on Collegefession that glorify cheating on significant others and carelessness by people who are legally considered “adults” that act worse than their younger (probably more responsible) counterparts. I feel like I’m mid-life crisis-ing all over this (and I’m only in my twenties!), but going on Twitter makes me feel straight-up dirty for that reason. At this point, I only go on to actually view the Twitter profiles of organizations I admire, rather than scope them out on my dashboard between a slideshow about Miley Cyrus’ red carpet faux pas and a quote supposedly by Marilyn Monroe that was never actually said by Marilyn Monroe. And no, seeing that same quote retweeted over and over never gets less awkward.

Which is your personal take on the social networks you’re currently a part of?

6 responses to “The Pros, Cons, Ins, and Outs of Social Networks – the Perspective of a Digital Media-Savvy College Student

  1. I’m just on WordPress for now. It’s not in The Big Three (or Four? I’m thinking of Pintrest because many of my friends adore it–we are older than you–30’s & 40’s), but I enjoy WordPress because there’s nothing really creepy going on (ye). I have never been on Twitter (no real interest), but I briefly used Instagram. Had some difficulty with the
    app and decided I didn’t feel like messing with it. I was addicted to Facebook, though. I checked it constantly. Of course, this was in addition to it notifying me of everything. Sadly, I felt very childish using it because I would experience these “left out” emotions over the lamest things. Like not being tagged in things other friends were, or not being at or aware of some social event. And then wondering what people were up to all the time (you could tell people were flirting or hooking up with someone they shouldn’t by the overtly sexual self-portraits and winking smilies). And, of course, all the vague, accusatory posts aimed at ??? purely for attention. I think
    the spying/stalking is AWFUL. I have friends who casually refer to “Facebook stalking” (for example, if they are romantically interested in someone) as if they are talking about looking at someone’s photo and what teams/clubs they were in in a high school yearbook. But is that was it is to these ladies, I wonder. I, personally, just came to realize it was too invasive and that my (somewhat compulsive) personality didn’t go well with it. I will say, though, it was a great place to share photos with family or friends you don’t often see and care about. And one of my really good friends loves that its sophisticated programming is helping her business. She also likes how it has “learned” who she wants to read about in her newsfeed (and who not). People ask me all the time when I am coming back to Facebook because I miss out on events and information. That’s the only drawback, really. Great post!

    Like

    • You’ve made several excellent points, and I’m glad you brought them to my attention! That “left out” feeling is universal. I’ve read countless articles discussing the detrimental nature of being a “Facebook junkie”, as it can make people feel significantly worse about their selves, their situation in life, and the people they call friends. Fortunately, as of recently, I am guiding myself out of the “obsession” and focusing on my blog for a little bit. Other than promoting my writing on there, I’m hoping to keep it as my last resort of communication in the chance that someone cannot reach me any other way. Facebook tires me out.
      Thank you for your response, Barb. Once again, another great, insightful input! 🙂

      Like

  2. Excellent article! We are linking to this great article on our site.
    Keep up the good writing.

    Like

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