Question: Has Social Networking Improved the Quality of Relationships in Society?

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Social networking has had a major influence on society in the 21st century, enabling citizens to engage with each other in radically new and different ways. According to Brown (2011), we can fall in love online, create friendships, attend parties in other countries – all without leaving the comfort (and anonymity) of our armchair. And while the Generation Ys and Xs in our society are leading the adoption of the emerging social networking websites, it has been noted that the older generations are now catching up, with the strongest recent growth in usage among the 55 and 65 age group (Burbary 2010). So what does this apparent ‘revolution’ mean for society? How is social networking changing the way people relate to each other, and…show more content…
According to Wael Ghonim, a key activist in the Egyptian uprising: This revolution started [...] in June 2010 when hundreds of thousands of Egyptians started collaborating content. We would post a video on Facebook that would be shared by 60,000 people on their walls within a few hours. I've always said that if you want to liberate a society just give them the Internet (cited in Huffington Post, 2011) Clay Shirky, a major commentator on social media is most optimistic about the potential of the new networking technologies to bring about significant social change. Shirky suggests that the distinguishing feature of web 2.0 technologies is that they have moved beyond the 20th century paradigm of passive media consumption to one of active participation. This shift from consumption to action, Shirky argues, has the potential to free up human creativity, and to be a spur for major collective change: "Our social tools are not an improvement to modern society”, he says; “they are a challenge to it” (Shirky 2008, p.25). While social networking has become justly famous in the world of politics and social struggle, its more common and widespread use is in the more local domain of personal relationships. In this area we can also see many positive developments. On a basic level, social networking sites have proven to be a very
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