Choose a social media site that you are a member of and say why you engage with it and what you get out of it. If you are not a member of any site, choose one to observe and answer the same question regarding the activities that you observe – or, you may choose to say why you do not normally engage with social media. You are encouraged to use your answers to exercise 1.3 to frame your response.
Like another 1.09 billion other people around the world (Facebook 2016), I engage daily with Facebook as a social networking site (SNS). The site provides users a range of services where they can post, comment, observe and engage. It can be used by individuals, groups, small businesses and large organisations to share and stay connected.
I joined Facebook 10 years ago on the insistence of a friend who claimed it was interesting and very addictive. As the services of Facebook have developed, I found myself using it more and more. Am I addicted? I don’t consider myself to be but there would definitely be an empty space in my life if I was to suddenly stop using it! It may well resonate with Michael Wesche’s ‘The machine is using us’ (Wesch 2008) that who is in fact in charge of our online activities, us or the machine? Interestingly, Facebook informs their employees that “this journey is 1% finished” (Facebook 2016), reminding them that they’ve only begun to fulfill the mission to make the world more open and connected.
Personally, I use Facebook to post updates, photos, communicate with friends, follow pages of businesses and organisations, buy products and use it as a source of information. Work wise, I maintain a Member of Parliament’s Facebook page as a Communications Officer. I use the page to actively engage with electorate constituents and other followers to promote government initiatives, new legislation, political news and the MPs community work. Shirky (cited in Hinton and Hjorth 2013) explains that governments are becoming interested in social media to engage more directly with citizens, and citizens are using social media to draw attention to local issues. This has proven to be true, in my case, as the MP’s page receives daily messages from constituents asking for advice or to report an issue. Even though the office receives inquiries through traditional communication methods such as mail and phone calls, Facebook is more increasingly being used to make contact.
I often consider the ethical and privacy implications of Facebook. I have seen many dramas unfold right in front of me on my Iphone that have disastrously impacted other people’s lives. If it wasn’t for this SNS, would any of these incidents actually ever happened? Probably not. Maybe the machine is using us….
Facebook Company Info 2016, Facebook, viewed 14 July 2016, https://newsroom.fb.com/company-info/
Hinton, S & Hjorth, L 2013, Understanding social media, Sage, London, pp 23-24.
Youtube 2008, Michael Wesch: The machine is using us, viewed 14 July 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLlGopyXT_g