Social network sites (SNSs) are defined as online or web-based services that allow persons to construct a communal or semi-public profile within a delimited system, communicate and construct an array of other users to share a connection with and analyze, view, observe and traverse their record of associations and those created by others within the system, Ralph and Reynolds, (124 – 133). Social network sites (SNSs) are more progressively attracting the focus of academic and industry researchers enhanced by their affordances and ease of reach, as well as their immense influence of the social interactions, borderless interaction, and integration between different persons of diverse characteristics such as gender, age, race and social status as presented by Chaudhury, (67), since their inception, social network sites (SNSs) such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Bebo have attracted billions of users globally who have incorporated the Social network sites into their daily practices. Researchers in distinct research areas have examined Social network sites to appreciate and recognize the practices, user’s engagement with the sites, implications, culture, and connotation of the sites, Effy, (102- 121).
Facebook is a bilingual Social network site with a presence worldwide. The advent and the development of the site have however had a paradoxical influence on social interactions. The site was previously perceived to favor the youth, however, Facebook has grown to be used by persons of all ages. In addition, Facebook was not developed to be used by a specific gender, race, or people with a given moral/traditional values, users can invite friends of diverse backgrounds, hence bridging the divide between persons of different ages, cultures, statuses, classes or race according to Aydurmus, (14). While Facebook has been hyped as a site where persons of all walks of life can interact without limitations, other researchers have argued on the contrary arguing that the customizable nature of the provisions of the site favors segregation of the users. The site allows persons to create groups that can be used by persons of specific social status/class/stereotypes to interact while closing out other people. This is paradoxical in that Facebook promotes borderless social interaction while enhancing segregation in terms of having specific social groupings.
Furthermore, the paradoxical nature of the site in today’s culture is suggested by the fact that the site promotes a digital divide Macnamara, (216), whereas persons can interact and create friends in the site, the more friends someone has on the site means more time on the network, this means less time available to interact with real-life friends. In essence, it is argued that there exists an inverse relationship between the number of friends one has in real life and the number of friends one has on Facebook. While promoting social interactions through the internet, Facebook is addictive as presented by Watkins, (56), and tends to reduce the time available for a person to interact with real-life friends, hence inhibiting social interactions.
The above view about social networking is in support of Easterbrook, cited in Sonia and Jack (403). In the essay The Progress Paradox, Easterbrook evaluates the paradoxical outcome of increased affluence and the capability to engage in material goods while considering depression and dissatisfaction. The author argues that life is improving across the board by based on a diverse collection of facts and evidence, several indicators generally point out that life is improving such as falling crime rates, improving the state of the environment, increasing brainpower, progressing domestic and global economies, however, the media have always distorted the facts by focusing on the ills and shortcomings to attract viewers and readers, forgetting the improvements that have been made over time.
Regardless of the achievements and progress that have been made over time, satisfaction surveys for the last fifty years suggest the contrary, Craig and Dinesh, (122), since in general the level of satisfaction or happiness has been constant, this is paradoxical. In an attempt to solve the paradox, the author suggests that the growing number of options results to stress and unhappiness since the consumers are unsure if they are making the right choice. Furthermore, the author argues that the revolution of satisfied expectations, abundance denial, and collapse anxiety are other sources of unhappiness and stress. In essence, the essay is reflective of the current culture revealing that conception and perception of happiness are rather dynamic from one person to another, since there can never be a global objective view of what entails happiness, different subjective views of the matter exist over time.
Fraser and Soumitra, (166), suggest that several users of Facebook tend to adopt different identities from what the person is. In the current society, while the users of the site would like to communicate effectively, in some cases they want to hide their true identity, but rather claim a different identity. Some users have altered their profiles to hypothetical details to what they would aspire to be, and attempt to pass those details as their own. The idea of claiming a different identity is prevalent in social sites. This perception is supported by Bernstein in the essay Goin’ Gangsta, Choosin’ Cholita, where several youths in some parts of the country do not accept their own identity but rather claim a different identity. Whereas the author argues that it is a positive situation when a youth opts to take a different identity other than their own. Identity is, however, a natural occurrence that can never be altered, whereas the youth can claim to profess a different identity, facts remain unchangeable, they can’t change their identity, hence they are living in a virtual world. An interview with a long-time friend points out the difference in identity, personal experience, which suggests that most of the persons alter their real identities in FaceBook to preserve their privacy.
Me: Hi friend, long time no see
Bill: Fine thank you
Me: I have been looking for you I searched for your name on Facebook but I could not find you, aren’t you on Facebook.
Bill: I am on FaceBook
Bill: Yes, but in my life, problems are part of me, I have been followed by a string of misfortunes, hence I have used fictitious names and details on my Facebook profile
Social networks such as Facebook have had diverse impacts on today’s culture, as regards the site’s influence on social interaction, the impacts have been paradoxically compounded with the fact that users may register on the site using fictitious details, and the current society is dynamic in its social expectations.
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