social media

Has social networking removed all sense of privacy in our lives?

We are in the age of the digital. The 21st century has seen our lives revolve more and more around the media and the new technologies in our reach – we have become digitalised.

We are in the age of the digital. The 21st century has seen our lives revolve more and more around the media and the new technologies in our reach – we have become digitalised. It seems, however, that with digitalisation comes a loss of privacy. I am referring specifically to the social networking sites, of course; Facebook, Twitter, the endless amount of dating sites, Tumblr, and also the mere capacity to blog without restriction at any time, have all allowed our personal thoughts, interests, opinions, activities and routines to become public knowledge. 

In particular, our personal relationships have become digitalised. Since when was it part and parcel in starting a new relationship to change your relationship status on Facebook? Along with introducing our new boyfriend or girlfriend to our parents, we must make sure our 400+ friends know. I am not in any way suggesting that we should not celebrate our new relationships and refrain from telling our friends on our social networking accounts – we have all, at one time or another, felt the excitement of ticking the ‘in a relationship’ box on Facebook.  But I believe there are wider issues surrounding this action. Seemingly, where is the line between private and public on social networking sites? 

Social networking sites as a medium have become excessive in our society. They are a daily routine of many. Admittedly I have often found myself staring aimlessly at Facebook for hours on end. It has become quite normal to share our lives online. We have the ability to allow people we know, and often enough, people we do not know, to access our lives, as such. More worryingly, digitalisation has allowed us to change who we are; in essence the social networking sites most popularly used nowadays give us the opportunity to be a different person if we wish. What we ‘like’ or what our interests are, do not necessarily have to represent us entirely. Clearly that is the most widespread danger of social networking sites and leads to issues of cyber-stalking, online paedophilia and more personal identity issues. The majority of these social networking sites have implemented strict security and privacy policies; however they are often at the discretion of the user. 

Personally I have never seen the appeal of accepting a friend request from someone I do not know. Nor have I seen the appeal in broadcasting my personal life on these sites. I do, however, often upload photographs to share on Facebook, so does that make me a hypocrite? If I am willing to share my experiences (or more precisely drunk University nights out), is there any difference in sharing personal relationship information? 

It is becoming more and more prevalent that social networking sites will not in any way tone down the element of sharing – simply that is what they are based on. It is at the judgment of the user as to what they share exactly and to whom. I think it is important that we all remember that social networking sites can be a bit of a scary place. They are for friends, not strangers. Our relationships are personal, and often Facebook can remove the romance of them. If your close circle of friends are aware of your relationship, does the school friend you haven’t spoken to for 10 years need to know? Hopefully we will all be receiving a card this valentines day and not a Facebook comment or tweet, but if not, the ‘unfriend’ button is always available.