Internet has changed the way of relating; many real encounters take place in the virtual environment. But just as they can bring us closer to others, they can draw us away.
Experts call them digital natives. They are children and young people born after 1990, who do not conceive the world without technology and whose participation in social networks is the majority. According to a thesis recently published by the University of the Basque Country, digital natives possess new skills compared to previous generations, such as socialization, visual intelligence, hypertextuality or the ability to solve problems on their own.
For them, the Internet is the first source of information and the ideal medium to communicate and interact with their friends. So much so, that in the future digital relationships could become the prelude or even an indispensable premise of physical relationships.
After the pandemic, many of those born before the main paradigm are also increasingly familiar with these virtual relationship environments, and it is worth wondering to what extent this way of contacting others is here to stay and what we should take into account in this regard. .
Wouldn’t it be better to invest your time in something more productive? Will the network end up supplying the true social life, that of contact between people, that of listening, that of a real coexistence?
WHY BE IN THE NETWORKS?
Living in this newly established technological society – where the language, norms and habits of conduct are so different – offers an opportunity to learn both personally and professionally.
The keyboard of the computer and the mobile phone replaces the voice, gestures and looks. And through the screen you project your life, tastes and work.
But, although the Internet has total freedom of expression and the ability to send a message to any corner of the world, its memory is permanent. Any step is registered and visible to any user. And to the real identity of each one is added a digital identity formed by the information that is poured into the network.
The aspects of social networks that users value the most are: the ability to group all friends in a single support, find out what they are doing, share photos, receive information about events, rediscover old friends and, above all, keep in touch with people you can’t talk to often.
In this sense, social networks can overcome any temporary or geographical barrier. Having a busy schedule or residing abroad (or, more recently, restrictions imposed by the coronavirus) are no longer an impediment to enjoying an active and up-to-date social life.
Regardless of whether the reason why you are part of a social network is to keep in touch with friends, develop a project or disclose information, there is a great question that underlies all of them and that reveals the reason for its rise: the need to communicate and the desire to enhance the possibilities in doing so.
This is explained by the sociologist Javier de Rivera, an expert researcher in online communication and social networks, for whom “the phenomenon of social networks is closely related to the process of individualization of society and the lack of time to establish and enjoy of social relations “.
VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES: SPACES FOR GROWTH
Social networks also have a cultural facet. Communities created around a hobby, social cause, political campaign, etc. proliferate on these platforms. As in real life, these are groups with a common interest that make contact between people possible and encourage active participation and cooperation.
They are very popular on social networks and the tool that allows the user to find people with similar concerns or create debate about certain topics. The nature of the groups can be the most diverse and include from alumni of a school to lovers of philosophy.
They are, in short, the way to make new friends with like-minded tastes, but also to define your own interests. In addition, as long as one joins in a committed way, these groups can increase the feeling of belonging, help self-assertion and raise awareness about certain causes.
Another great advantage of social networks is the possibility of taking advantage of them in the work environment. Through them, fruitful professional relationships can be started and resources exchanged.
NETWORK RISKS: HOW TO PREVENT THEM?
Although social networks have many virtues, such as support for human or work relationships, responsibility and caution are the best allies when it comes to avoiding displeasure
It is also good to be clear about what and when to use social networks, so that they do not take up too much time or divert from other important areas of life. It is important to be aware and distance yourself to value virtual activity in its proper measure.
1. PROTECT PRIVACY
On social media, when a user publishes content, others can comment or praise what they have posted. In fact, many times, the purpose of sharing a text, an image or a video is usually to please, which is why social networks have become a tool for integration and obtaining recognition.
Self-affirmation is given not by what it is, but by what it shows publicly, knowing that others will see it. This exchange of intimacies is changing the way a person presents himself. This favors voyeurism and exhibitionism that can create dependency.
“It is difficult to know how far to show oneself”, Javier de Rivera remarks. “You have to know what audience you have and show yourself accordingly. Social networks turn the person into a kind of miniature celebrity and require image management that many of us are not used to. Combine naturalness and sincerity with prudence it is the most effective. ”
2. AVOID ISOLATION
There are other risks to guard against. One of the main ones is isolation, derived from giving more weight to social activity in the virtual environment than in the real one.
” It is essential to know how to disconnect for a season to remember what life is like without them and regain contact with people close to you and with yourself. After all, social networks are a very new phenomenon and we still do not really know what the effect is. they will have in society and people’s lives “, concludes the expert.
3. RECOGNIZE TRUE FRIENDSHIPS
Buddy collecting is another common danger. The procedure to add friends is so simple that sometimes it pushes to add people without measure. Not surprisingly, having a long list of virtual friends is the way to demonstrate your popularity on the web, which in turn gives this fact great importance and visibility.
“Social relationships can become more superficial and lose some of the intimacy. It is better to reduce contacts and improve communication with them, than to have many and not know what to say, ” advises the sociologist.