Should you be on Facebook?
If you were asked the question “Do you use Facebook,” the answer might be obvious. Perhaps a more valid question would be the number of times you are on Facebook during the course of a day. Current technology enables us to utilize the internet as a means for communication (or networking) with friends. This action may seem second-nature to many, but some are arguing that social network websites are leading future generations down a path that should not be traveled. A path that is characterized by “short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity.” Does this belief have validity? Although terms such as “Facebook addict” are often coined, this belief has no backbone to be realistic.
Lady Greenfield, from the article ”Facebook and Bebo risk 'infantilising' the human mind,” emphasizes that using social networking sites alter the minds of children, creating a short attention span and making them in some sense an introvert. However, it should be mentioned that most users on these sites are not children, but teenagers at the youngest. It is known that one’s mind is mainly shaped during an adolescent age. According to an online education agency (Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency), “brain research tells us that the first three years of life are a critical period in a child's development. Early experiences help determine the child's brain structure - shaping the way he or she learns, thinks and behaves for the rest of his or her life.” According to this, if any person exhibits short attention span or has an anti-socialistic personality, then more than likely these were developed during the first few years of their childhood or they were born with attention deficit disorder.
Greenfield also makes the point that Facebook often lead people to confining themselves from the “outside world” and therefore become less interactive. However, many use these or similar sites just as a means for communicating to friends that they otherwise cannot (due to distance or lack of time to communicate on the phone). In some aspect, they are actually closer to people in comparison to if they had not used a networking site.
She also notes that as a result of networking sites, current minds will be “different from those of previous generations.” This may be true, but it is due rather to changes in culture and society, not just technology. Today’s society is much more fast-paced than 40-50 years ago. For example, the 1950s were a time when many were “socially conservative,” in which many believed that the government played a big factor in maintaining a civilized world. This period was also marked as “the decade with the least musical innovation.” These are two aspects that seem to contradict current society. Today, people are less conservative, often even blaming the government for the state of the country. Also, current music plays a major role in culture. It would be nearly impossible to spend a day on a college campus and not see numerous people listening to their mp3 players. As a result, the demeanor and minds of the current generation don’t parallel past ones, but technology is not the number one contributor.
Greenfield believes that due to the ease of communicating on networking sites, “real conversation in real time may eventually give way to these sanitised and easier screen dialogues.” Although communicating online may be easier in some ways than its counterpart, personal communication skills will not become obsolete. For example, the process of interviewing for jobs will most likely remain a requirement. Therefore, teachers will continue to teach interpersonal skills to their students.
With the rapid development of technology, the world has seen a boom in the use of online social networking sites such as Facebook. Although seemingly harmless, Lady Greenfield (professor at Lincoln College in Oxford) has proposed that these websites are ultimately detrimental because they will cause children to have short attention spans and make them less interactive than they should be. However, most users are not children, and their ways of thinking are usually shaped during the first three years of their childhood. Also, teachers will always instruct their students on communication skills, so in turn they will not be less interactive. It should also be noted that since these websites are relatively new, there is no evidence of these claims.