Social networks have drastically transformed our modes of communication. Some argue that these networks have been for the better; they have increased our literacy, intimacy with others, knowledge base, ability to impact politics, and marketing channels. Others argue that social networks have a predominantly negative impact; diminishing our attention spans, ability to empathize, and personal identity.
Our modes of communication are constantly changing, but for the most part the goal of social networks is to increase communication between individuals. At first, this was a hefty goal for social networks to achieve. Sites like MySpace, Livejournal, and even the early Facebook had users but users were not yet comfortable with the high level of communication that we take for granted today.
In this same vein, Twitter and Quora have been game changers, they have caught on and have forced Facebook and other social networks to alter themselves accordingly.
- Twitter has introduced a way for companies and individuals alike to publicly market themselves, sharing information about their every move.
- Quora has introduced a platform for individuals to ask question, and receive high quality answers, making the traditional search engine nearly obsolete.
These sites have proven successful, but could not have been possible 5, or even 10 years ago. Today, users of social networks are more engaged and willing to share personal information. The introduction of Facebook was the tipping point; it made the private public. Once users became comfortable breaking this boundary, social networks proved to be useful, meaningful ways of communication.
With that said, there are many users who still do not feel comfortable with the boundary that these social networks seem to encroach upon. No matter which way we look at it though, these sites are our future; they will impact our group formations, our interpersonal relationships, the way we build our communities, and the way we choose to specialize our knowledge. In order to bring true value in these communities individuals need to create quality content in a way that displaces seemingly archaic forms of communication (boards, independent webpages, listservs, and chatrooms). Sure, there are drawbacks to this fate of communication and social networks, it might produce a generation of individuals who are overly concerned with their appearance on the web. However, others will learn how to capitalize on the power of social networks to learn and collaborate more closely with people in their communities.
Net-net, I believe that social networks provide its users with a tremendous amount of power; connections enable users to reach others who are like minded, and those connections will surely help us progress technologically. You’re either a part of it, or you’re not.