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Outback Observations: Anti-Social Media

If I had to name one significant technological change that’s completely altered life as I know it within the last 15 years (give or take a year), I’d have to say it’s the Internet.

I grew up in a time when personal computers rapidly became a household norm, but video games didn’t require us to practically watch a movie before actually enjoying the game itself.  The Internet didn’t become mainstream until well after my high school years.

The World Wide Web truly revolutionized the manner in which we communicate and seek information.  From e-mail to the dissemination of news, it’s truly a marvel in and of itself.

Of course, this technology, has seen plenty of offshoots into the leisure-time realm.  Social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and the like have revolutionized the manner in which we interact with one another.

Even the Lake County Examiner’s (italics) Facebook page has altered the manner in which we share and receive information from the general public.  It also serves as a contemporary link for former residents of the area interested in keeping tabs on their former hometown.

I’m not a Twitter guy; I’ll fully admit it.  I have a personal Facebook page, and sometimes it seems like I probably get myself into trouble more than I really ought to, so I figure that’s more than enough hassle in and of itself.

It’s a handy and useful tool, socially speaking, especially in terms of trying to reconnect with distant relatives or long-lost friends in between high school reunions or some such circumstances.

But this handy tool also has an equally potent capability of alienating us from the social standpoint.

Despite fairly substantial proof otherwise, there’s a false sense of anonymity many believe comes with interacting in the online world.  It’s all too easy to assume a slightly bolder sense of bravado and say things that one may not otherwise say if the conversation took place face-to-face.

But the vast majority of Internet users are common, ordinary folks that enjoy sharing photos with family and friends, as well as sharing elements of their lives with one another.  By and large, social media can be a very positive tool in modern communications.

Even with this incredibly modern technological wonder, however, it is possible for things to go very wrong, very quickly.

Unlike in face-to-face conversations, where visual and audible cues are present that reflect how we respond, it is far too easy for things to be misconstrued on the Internet.

There are no visual or audible points of reference that reflect tone, such as when we’re being sarcastic or joking.  As a result, it’s way too easy for misunderstandings to turn extreme, with the potential vast for friendships to be damaged, if not destroyed.

It’s ironic that communications technology has brought the world closer together, but, on the flip side of the double-edged sword, its capability to divide us sharply is also ever present.

In light of how connected we all are through such social media as Facebook, Twitter and the like, it’s all the more important that we bear in mind how we present ourselves to the world at large, for even a small town is part of the world at large, where social media is concerned.

The world is watching and listening through our online presence; the question is what do we all have to say, and what does it say about us?


— Ryan Bonham

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