Today, the concept of a social network is all about technology and socialmedia. High school seniors today have no memory of life without social media. People of all ages enjoy the advantages that technology brings to socialnetworking. People have also found that unfortunately, social networking can bring about some very harmful results as well.
As a baby boomer and old sociology instructor, I would like people to remember that the concept of a social network is not new. It dates back to even before the automobile. Prior to the computer, we wanted young people to develop a social network by making personal contacts with individuals that could help them reach their goals. Young people needed to develop positive relationships with teachers, coaches, professors, and employers. Also important was writing letters, writing a thank you, meeting, greeting, using good manners, using proper language and punctuation. There were even physical skills like using eye contact, sitting and standing straight, proper tone of voice, and a firm handshake that were very important to relationship building. These were all skills that one could use to personally develop their own social network. Back then, the social network was about how you would develop a good reputation and earn the respect of people so that it would provide opportunities for your future.
Little did I know, my parents knew a lot about social network. They always wanted to know who we were hanging out with. They wanted to know things like where we were going and what we were going to do. They understood that who we hung out with had a major impact on the choices we made. It was also understood that others noticed our appearance and how we represented ourselves in public. OK, things are different today. The definition of a social network has changed for sure. Different does not have to be a synonym for bad. My hope is that we can maintain some people skills that we seem to have little time for today.
With current technology, people can theoretically hang out with anyone from anywhere in the world. We can bring all of our friends along anywhere we go. That’s both amazing and scary. I often wonder, if this technology had been available when I was young, how would I have used it? With that thought, I urgently encourage those who are parents and leaders of young people to monitor their use of technology. :)