The human being is a social being. Since the moment we are born, we need to feel connected to someone, starting with our mothers. We are continuously developing relationships; with relatives, friends, classmates. Additionally, in this technological era, something called Social Networks Sites appeared. Through this social networks, people try to keep in touch with people that already know, they meet new people and even find romantic relationships. Hence, I will talk about Facebook, the most important social networks nowadays, among youngsters and older people. What kind of relations we can found using Facebook? What possible concerns could appear related to Facebook? Can we keep in touch with people after physical disconnection?
First, I would like to talk about Social Capital. This is, basically, the result of resources accumulated through the relationships between people. The social capital is usually treated as something positive for the society, because it means better public health, lower crime rates and trust between the members of a social group. Also, we can differentiate two kinds of social capital: bridging and bonding. In one hand, bridging social capital means ”weak ties”, through this connections, the members provide useful information and more perspective for one another, but there is not emotional support. I think this is the kind of connection and social capital that there are between most part of the ”friends” in social networks, they know information from one another and maybe share the same music tastes, but they cannot provide emotional support one another. On the other hand, we have bonding social capital, which means emotional close relationships that we can find in our family and close friends. I believe that it is really difficult to create bonding social capital using social networks, especially when this ”friend” is someone that you have never seen in-person (online to offline).
Additionally, it is interesting the idea about ”maintained social capital”, which is the ability of Social networks to keep in touch people after physical disconnection. That usually happens when families move for job reasons, decreasing the social capital. In order to keep in touch, people rely on emails, instant messaging and social networks; they want to feel connected and maintain the social capital, rather than having offline interactions with new people in the new location. I have felt something similar when one of my best friends moved to Bulgaria last year. We said that we will always be in touch by Skype, emails and social networks, such as Facebook, and I can say that these technological tools are really useful in order to keep in touch with friends, that I am physically disconnected with, but still connected, somehow. However, I don’t think that keeping in touch with my old friends is not allowing me to create close relationships with the people nearby.
On the other hand, there could be some concerns about social networks, related to privacy. But I think that Facebook has fixed many of these problems in the last years, controlling more the privacy and allowing the users to set their own privacy. I think it is all up to the users, now; they have to decide their who are their ”friends”.
My conclusion is that we are social beings, that need to feel connected to people that share their same interests, values, attitudes, etc. Fortunately, technology allows us to reach this goal, for example, by social networks. However, it is up to us how we will use these tools, in order to avoid problems related to identity presentation or privacy. If we use these tools wisely, we will be able to increase our social capital, we will be able to keep in touch with our old friends and family, and we will be able to connect.
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