“Social Network sites should be banned as they cause a breakdown in real-life communication. ” Do you agree? Social network sites can be defined as web-based services that allow individuals to construct a public or semi-public profile in a bounded system. One can articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection and also view their list of connections and those made by others within the system. The nature of these connections may vary from site to site.
A social network service focuses on building social relations between people who share similar interests or activities.
They essentially consist of a profile, the person’s social links and a variety of additional services. Most social network sites provide a means for users to interact over the Internet, such as instant messaging and email. There has been a huge interest recently of the impact these sites have on society and an increasing number of academics have become interested in studying them.
There are many dangers and problems in using these sites; however, there are also many benefits, to both the individual and society. I will explore the issues related to using social network sites; paying particular attention to the quality of communication it allows users. There have been many concerns put forward by academics, people of the older generation and particularly the media about the apparent dangers of social network sites and some have even asserted that a ban from them be put in place.
Some of these concerns include the breakdown of communication, ‘cyber bullying’ and problems associated with exposing personal details on these sites. In addition, they have expressed distress about social network sites being used as a means of communication for terrorist groups and causing people to become dangerously addicted to them. Due to the limited scope of this essay, I will only be considering issues relating to the communication that occurs between members of these sites; the idea of friendships, the quality of communication and problems with ‘cyber bullying’ and related suicides.
I will argue that although there seems to be many problems with SNSs, we have gained a great deal from them, individually and in society as a whole. According to an article in the Mail Online, the reason why social network sites are so popular is that they give the users a chance to express themselves, making them feel “important and accepted”. However, it also points out the many downfalls of using SNS; with the fears of it causing a breakdown in communication featuring prominently.
The writer asserts that “Real-life chatting is, after all, far more perilous than in the cyber world” and continues to point out that the reason why this is true is the fact that we are unable to take time to conjure up clever responses and it also requires many skills, in being able to understand the other person’s voice tone, body language and even being sensitive to pheromones. The writer conveys her opinion with a very mocking and disapproving tone, almost forcing the reader to take up her point of view.
The article solely focuses on the problems of SNS and does not explore the various benefits associated with them; therefore, this weakens the strength of the article in my opinion. Strong and emotive language is utilised throughout the article, with examples such as comparing the giving way of real conversations to screen dialogues to the way meat being packaged on the supermarket shelf had replaced, “killing, skinning and butchering an animal”.
The writer also employs the use of scare-mongering, implying, with a great lack of evidence, that using social network sites could damage children’s brains, with the result that it immediately captures the reader’s attention and they are therefore more susceptible to the opinions conveyed in the article. Archbishop Nichols, in an interview with The Times, agreed with the former article in the Daily Mail, that SNS are having a drastic effect on our communication skills and at the same time devaluing friendship.
He states that “Myspace and Facebook led young people to seek ‘transient’ friendships, with quantity becoming more important than quality”. In this interview, the Archbishop makes the mistake of greatly generalizing the communication that takes place on these sites. He assumed that all people using SNS are only using that form of communication exclusively and are not combining it with others, such as using telephones or conversing face-to-face. This devalues his argument as he talks collectively about the types of people using SNS and does not take into account that many people use them for numerous different reasons.
As his argument is solely formed from his involvement with religion, t can be contended that this leads him to form a biased view of SNS, not taking into account the great benefits of using these sites and only focusing on the negatives. Another argument that the Archbishop puts forward is the idea that in using SNS, members form ‘transient relationships’, so that when the friendships collapse, people are left feeling desolate. It is not quite clear how the Archbishop has come to form this opinion, as the only evidence he has employed is the recent suicide of the school girl, Megan Gilligan.
Although this one incident of suicide has provoked a substantial amount of media attention and deep emotions, it is not extensive enough to form such a strong opinion of SNS. In fact, very few people using SNS have committed suicide with the cause attributed to SNS. One issue that is frequently raised when discussing SNS, is that of the terrible effects of ‘cyber bullying’ and this is drawn to our attention in the previous article expressing the views of Archbishop Nichols. The term ‘cyber bullying’ is often used very loosely and in one definition, just having an embarrassing picture displayed on a SNS constitutes the ‘cyber bullying’.
As many people are away, embarrassing pictures are very often displayed on sites, whether it just be for fun or with a more malicious intent; therefore one cannot tell if the statistics being published correctly reflect the current situation of the number of people being ‘bullied’ through these sites. A blog post on Simple Thoughts – A Java and Web Blog illustrates this point exactly. The writer articulates that SNS are not the cause of bullying; they are merely an “extension of bullying”, or a new platform for the behaviour that was already taking place.
It is very difficult deal with the bullying taking place on these sites and to come up with a solution to decrease the number of people who feel they have been bullied on the SNS. The predominant problem is that schools are not able to monitor the bullying on these sites. Perhaps some sort of structure should be put in place so that the conversations taking place can be monitored and reported. Some sites have put into place a ‘help’ button, which alerts other members of the sites individuals feel victimised or distressed.
I feel that this is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to educate users of the implications of their actions online. If one were to disagree with the Archbishop’s argument, they may draw his attention to the fact that for centuries, letters were predominantly the sole means of communication over a long distance. Although letters tend to be longer and more detailed than conversation that takes place on SNS, they still do not take place face-to-face, contradicting Nichols’ argument.
Therefore, he cannot assert that society is losing its ability to build communities through inter-personal communication due to the lack of face-to-face meetings. One may even go as far to say that SNS, such as Facebook, have helped to strengthen communities. There are several benefits of using social networking sites as a form communication – it allows you to keep in touch with friends you would not normally see, for example, friends who live further away or in another country.
In addition, it is easier to keep track of your contacts and allows users to maintain stronger ties with a wider group of people than they would if not using SNS. Furthermore, they do not require you to spend any money to use them, whereas, you may incur huge costs when visiting friends over long distances. However, whether you get the same pleasure or quality of communication when conversing in this way is questionable
These counter arguments of the Archbishop’s views are greatly supported by a very clever and thought provoking article in The Times. In this article the writer, David Aaronovitch, highlights the consistent pattern society has of finding faults with new modern technology, implying that this is merely a stage that society has to endure and it will be replaced with another, more pressing issue in the future. Aaronovitch begins by criticizing the Archbishop’s previous comments on the dangers of social networking on the internet.
In fact, Aaronovitch points out, that instead of having a detrimental effect on friendships, social network sites seem to encourage the continuation of friendships as individuals are able to remain in contact very easily. Another interesting point stressed in the article is the powerful role that the media and academics have when commenting on various issues, such as problems with SNS. Aaronovitch draws attention to the obsession many critics have in finding a cause of societal decline, contradicting other critics and, often, themselves.
The main argument of the article, being that determined cultural pessimism of “spiritual, academic and commentating elders” constitutes the greatest threat to the mental and social health of our youth, seems highly plausible, since the two articles discussed above seem to be almost ruthless in their condemning of SNSs, with a great lack of evidence to support their points. In conclusion, the problems with SNS discussed have been rendered unimportant and invalid reasons as to constitute a ban for the sites.
The sites have improved communication between individuals, but whether the quality of the conversation between individuals is diminishing is still an issue that needs to be researched further. Unless SNS are used as an exclusive form of communication, then there appears to be no concerns with using the sites. The assertion that SNS have devalued friendship has been disproved, with evidence that the sites help people to stay in touch longer and form stronger ties with a wider group of people, where other forms of communication present obstacles such as cost and time.
The allegations that SNS lead teenagers to suicide and promote bullying are additionally overthrown due to the lack of substantial evidence to make a convincing claim. In reviewing all of the arguments and counterarguments, I have consequently found that SNS should not be banned, as they have not yet been proven to cause a breakdown in real-life communication. Although there are many dangers and drawbacks with using social network sites, there are also a large number of benefits. On the whole, banning SNSs will not solve the problems of societal decline and I feel that more investigation into SNSs and issues related to them is critical.
Rather than creating a moral panic about these sites being created, people need to pay closer attention to the problems inherent in society. Social networking sites are not the problem that leads to identity theft, bullying, terrorism and addiction. It is merely a means of communication. What one must consider is if social networking sites did not exist, then would we still have all these problems in society? And the answer is yes. Although the sites do not cause these problems, they effectively encourage them and act as a driving force in which they occur.
The issues need to be dealt with precisely, rather than just trying to hinder their development. Society has become too dependent on these sites as a form of communication and, as such, needs to be aware of the danger in using them. There should be some effort made to educate the public of these hazards, without making the mistake of over exaggerating them, also attempting to educate users about the implications of their actions when using SNS and issues relating to personal security. ———————– 1] How Facebook addiction is damaging your child’s brain: A leading neuroscientist’s chilling warning, http://www. dailymail. co. uk/femail/article-1172690/How-Facebook-addiction-damaging-childs-brain-A-leading-neuroscientists-chilling-warning. html##ixzz0eJ5DSYNF  http://www. timesonline. co. uk/tol/comment/faith/article6736463. ece  http://blog. taragana. com/index. php/archive/social-networking-sites-can-help-protect-youngsters-from-cyber-bullying/  http://www. timesonline. co. uk/tol/comment/columnists/david_aaronovitch/article6737828. ece
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Should Social Network Sites Be Banned?. (2018, Feb 26). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/should-social-network-sites-be-banned/