Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Social Networking Continued

I have to admit, I've been thinking a lot about social networking over the past few days. Two news events have continued this interest and my thoughts on the consequences of social networking, Jon and Kate Gosslin's divorce announcement and the continuing election crisis in Iran. For those of you who don't watch TLC (or the news) Jon and Kate Gosslin are the parents of 8 children, a set of twin girls and a set of sextuplets. They have their own show, Jon and Kate Plus 8, on TLC. Over the past few months they have been making headlines because of their marriage problems and on Monday, the announced they are divorcing. This doesn't have a whole lot to do with social networking, but has to do with what social networking causes, an excess of information and the need to share excessively. The paparazzi have been clamoring for news concerning the Gosslins, and as it always is, the more pictures, the more stories, the more speculation grows. I'm not saying this couple is divorcing because of the press and society's zest to know their intimate private details. A good marriage could survive something like this and it should only bring their family closer. However, a marriage that was already struggling (and it appears theirs was) could easily be broken when faced with this oppressive demand for information. So what can be learned from Jon and Kate? Stay out of other people's business; why should it be news that yet another couple is divorcing? Over 50% of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce, so this marriage-in-crisis should not be news. Leave this family alone to heal.

The other story that has peaked my interest has a little bit more to do with social networking rather than the excessive need for private information. Every since Iran held its elections and launched a world-wide protest against the oppressive regime, social networking has been away for Iranian citizens to communicate with the world. They've had to, with journalists being barred from the country, social networking sites like Twitter and YouTube have been the only way for people to get the news of what was really happening out there. Without social networking, there is a really good chance that we would know nothing about what was going on. We wouldn't have the dramatic pictures of silent protests and people being beaten in the streets. These are powerful images and have prompted global leaders to speak out in defense of justice. Without social networking, this never could have happened.

So where does this leave us? Social networking has taken society by storm and has launched some excellent tools, but it has also conditioned us to not respect people's privacy in our thirst for information. Lessons can be learned from all of this. Use social networking; connect with friends and family, keep up with the news, etc. But also know when enough is enough.

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