Back To Reality

Imagine a world without the social network, a day when we wake up to find that the social media sites we have come to so heavily depend on have disappeared.

A whole new world.
A whole new world.

Could you cope with coming back to reality?

Social networks have undoubtedly become a part of everyday life for individuals and businesses, it has become a fundamental element of how we operate in the world around us. If our virtual world were to suddenly disappear, the effects would significantly impact the way we behave and interact on a day to day basis.

The Individual

According to Janine Driver, a world without social media would negatively impact individuals.

Has social media moved mankind into the future?
Has social media moved mankind into the future?

There would be less communication

Social media allows individuals to instantly message not just your friends, but celebrities and businesses from around the world. Without the social media newsfeed, there would be less conversation in the world.

Friends would remain unconnected

Social media gives individuals the opportunity to reconnect with people from their past. Without social media, it would be much harder to stay connected.

Individuals would be uneducated

Many social media users sign up to a news source that feeds into their social media feeds. Without this, individuals would not be able to find out what’s going on in the world, remaining unaware of current events until it appeared on television or in print, often days later.

A world without social media would certainly be different to the one that we currently live in, however it’s important to be cautious about over use, a hard feat when researchers from Chicago University have identified that social media addiction can be stronger than addiction to cigarettes and alcohol.

Business

According to the Queensland Government, many businesses are able to use social media to reach potential customers from around the world. Social media is fast, easy and allows businesses to communicate with customers on a more personal level. Without social media, businesses would have to rely on more traditional media channels, resulting in less brand awareness and impacting sales. As many businesses are also born global through social media, without it many would cease to exist.

The question is, could the disappearance of social media propel us back into the dark ages in terms of communication or force mankind to find a resolution, catapulting us into the future like so many other difficulties we have overcome before it.

I believe that whilst the disappearance of our social networks would impact our everyday lives in the short term, as human beings we learn to evolve, we learn to adapt and we overcome. We have become accustomed to the small world that we now live in and the two way communication that our social networks facilitate. Even if the social networks were to end tomorrow, someone somewhere would certainly come up with a bigger, better, brighter way of communicating with one another and businesses, allowing us to remain submerged within our virtual bubble.

Tell me, what do you think a world without social media would look like?

Social media ceases to exist.
Where next?

Big Brother is Watching

When thinking about the digital world that surrounds us, it’s not often that we consider the impact of the network society on our behaviour in the physical world – both in a day to day sense and with businesses.

There’s no denying that our new found ability to communicate instantaneously on a global scale is making the world a much smaller place. With the ability to reach a wider audience, business is booming, with many being born global and solely operating in a digital space.

When thinking about the network society, what we really fail to consider is the impact of our digital activity. What affect is our digital footprint having on our physical world?

Do you know what your digital footprint is saying about you?

A digital footprint within a network society.
A digital footprint within a network society.

Digital Footprint

Defined by Oxford Dictionaries as information created by our online activity that sits on the internet, if not monitored our digital footprint has the potential to damage reputations, job opportunities and relationships.

According to George there are a number of ways to damage your reputation through online activity.

Posting inappropriate photos

Are you happy with what your digital footprint says about you?
Are you happy with what your digital footprint says about you?

Many of us struggle to grasp that once we post images online, they are there forever. Regardless of whether or not we delete the post, the fact that the image went live means that it has left behind a digital footprint. Posting inappropriate images  is an inaccurate representation of yourself and more often than not, come back to haunt you.

Online Trolling

Much like images, comments that you post through social media create a digital imprint. It’s so easy to take a bad day out on someone else when you are sitting behind a computer screen. In my opinion, the golden rule to remember is ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’.

Broadcasting your Business

Broadcasting your entire life on social media has the potential to impact your reputation and future employment. Life is all about boundaries, the way you behave in your social life may be completely different to that at work. Just because you choose not to be friends with work colleagues on social media, does not mean that they are unable to access to your information.

So who is watching your online activity?

A survey from Career Builder identified that employers are using social media to find out more information about job applicants. As a result more than 50% are turned down because of the inappropriate content that is posted online. As we get sucked further into the network society, this figure is set to rise. It’s like we are sacrificing our physical world, to participate in a virtual one.

Rest assured – it’s not all doom and gloom.

Employers have reported that they have hired job applicants because of their social media activity. Posting appropriate content on social media allows future employers to get a sense of a person’s character, it can also highlight a person’s creativity and demonstrate a wide range of interests they may have.

Despite the pros and cons, there’s no denying that the network society is going to continue to grow and our digital footprint will increase as we continue to heavily invest in our virtual worlds. My only concern is what we would do if our network society disappeared tomorrow. Tell me, do you think you could cope?

A Network Society – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Imagine a new world emerging in the 21st century, a new era of communication that brings with it the network society.

Originally coined in 1981, the term ‘Network Society’ is defined by Castell (2000) as a series of nodes, much like you and me, spread across the world and linked through the expansion of technology and free flowing communication. Charusmita (2012) explores the Network Society as a world we now live in that is the consequence of social, political and economic changes that have risen from our ability to share information online.

Unrestricted by time and space, communication no longer moves vertically, but flows horizontally in a digital world that knows nothing of geographical boundaries or social class. Castell (2001) explores the characteristics of a network society that facilitates the information economy we now live in, resulting in a new social structure that causes online communities to heavily rely on the flow of communication on a global scale.

What is this magical land where people speak freely and the wealth of knowledge is vast – is it really all a bed of roses …

The advantages and disadvantages of our network society are extensive and in my opinion often subjectively based on context and point of view.

Advantages

The boundaries of mass media communication are blurring with other types of communication.

It is becoming difficult for mass media to set the news agenda. The expansion of digital networks allows for the dissemination of news and information across the globe in real time, giving the public eye witness accounts of current news stories.

Technology is continually evolving

As society continues to become digitally connected, there is a greater focus on evolving and developing user friendly technology.

The world is getting smaller

Geographical boundaries no longer exist, according to Kitchen (2012)  individuals are able to use the network society to connect with likeminded people and community groups.

Disadvantages

Social Isolation and Polarisation

As we increase the time spent within our digital networks, we restrict ourselves from making connections in the physical world. I can’t help but wonder, as the network society continues to expand, is it possible to continue to make meaningful connections with everyone? And if not, then what do these online connections even represent?

Risk of Fraud or Identity Theft

As the digital world evolves, more personal information appears online increasing the risk of identity theft and fraud.

With the evolution of technology, the network society is expanding rapidly, filling up with endless amounts of personal data. It’s not just commercial businesses that are benefiting from our eagerness to share, the government also have the capacity to use the internet as a surveillance tool, monitoring individuals as they move through the virtual world.

Trapped in a Digital World Source: deviantart.com
Trapped in a Digital World
Source: deviantart.com

Whether the digital world is to our benefit or detriment, I can’t help but wonder about a time where we are no longer able to separate our physical world from our digital one? Tell me, how we will escape this new world, if we jump in head first?