Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Social Networking

Link:  http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080923-narcissists-easy-to-spot-on-facebookif-you-know-how.html

Facebook; it's like Myspace, but less trashy.  Targeted at college students, this social networking site allows its hundreds of thousands of users to create their own personal space on the web.  You can post pictures, blog about whatever you want, and with the addition of "fun" applications, there is virtually no limit to what you can seemingly create on it.  Some view Facebook as the newest link between our technological age and personal expression/creativity.  It may be true that this web application lets us express who we are, but some disagree with it's positive effects.  In fact, it's been critically accused of being nothing more than a magnet for the most narcissistic of us all.  What makes reading about other people's lives and writing about our own so appealing?  It's the diary of the 21st century.  

In the article linked above, a study was documented at the University of Georgia including 129 college students who voluntarily took a personality test.  Their test questions were then correlated to their facebook pages.  Researchers tried to link their true personalities to their "Facebook" identity.  Variables such as the number of "friends", group memberships, and length of their "about me" section all were determined to correlate with a person's identified narcissistic character.  In several accounts, if a person's Facebook profile portrayed a strong sense of self-promotion, their personality test often times reflected the same degree of narcissism.  

However just like in all situations, both side of the case must be considered.  This one small sample could not simply reflect the entire population of Facebook users.  Yes, there are hundreds if not thousands of people who portray themselves as a false image on the internet, but Facebook also serves as a creative base of pop culture today.  We're not using Facebook as the universal database for college students, its simply a site to express who you are in your own way.  Take Facebook at face value, and nothing more.  It's a way to keep in touch with old friends, new friends, and even make new ones.  Facebook is classified as a 'social-networking' website for a reason, it's a tool to network yourself at your own risk.  Just like about everything else on the internet, it's your own responsibility for what you post, view, and how you treat sites like this.

As the article concludes, the narcissists on Facebook stand out.  Facebook isn't a bad thing, its just something everyone should first recognize it's faults and false perceptions.  The freedom of self expression is something that everyone should feel free to exercise, whether it be via Facebook or not, enjoy it--its free.      

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