Social media networks have surged in popularity over the past five years, but what kinds of consequences do they have on society?
While it is trite to suggest that technology has the ability to take away the very humanness of life, it is undoubtedly true. New York Representative Anthony Weiner has come under fire for a spate of naughty pictures he sent to a coterie of young female admirers through Twitter, and while the incident is inherently ironic - his name, anyone? - it also illustrates the ethical issues that social networks present modernity.
Privacy advocates have long accused Facebook of manipulating its users into sharing more information than they are aware of or are comfortable doing, and every media event nowadays is seemingly spread across a multi-platform spectrum. Now, it is not enough to simply watch a television show - consumers must be constantly engaged on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram , lest they actually talk to the real live person sitting next to them.
Still, social media has certainly benefited society. Twitter and Facebook helped drive the Arab Spring, with young Arabs using the social networks as their primary means of communication when autocratic governments shut down cellular service networks. What's more, social networks enable people around the globe to connect with one another, facilitating connections that would otherwise have wilted.
Ultimately, social media networks can paradoxically slow progress and fuel it, stymie creativity and cultivate it. It's up to the user to decide how he utilizes that potential.
Just please, quit clogging up my Facebook and Twitter streams with pictures of your significant other and pet cat.