By Ngozi Adighibe
Online Communication: Severe Implications & Conclusion (2019)
Last week, we discussed the question of who has the most control- Owners or Users, and we also posed the question of who determines how social media platforms evolve. We concluded that owners and users both have roles to play towards the development and relevance of these sites. However, we also noted that users are most important because they determine the use and importance of any website.
So, what are my final thoughts on these series:
- Public & Private Communication: Certain Implications
- Certain Implications of Public Communication Part 2
- The Culture of Connectivity: Big Owners versus Users
I have observed that the problem is not that many are oblivious of the impact of technology in their daily living, but rather that they either don’t care or are unaware of the implications of their online actions. These actions include the concepts of ‘sharing’, ‘liking’, ‘friending’, ‘following’ and the likes.
For example, the “what’s on your mind” question on Facebook that appears whenever one clicks on the status icon. It is my opinion that this is a way of initiating some sort of emotional reaction from users. It’s almost psychological; as if Facebook actually cares about your feelings and thoughts. It’s like an imitation of the famous saying, “A problem shared is half solved.” Whereas it’s just another strategy to keep one engaged on the platform, and further use the data one generates for commercial purposes.
Did you know?
Knowledge, they say, is power.
Are you aware that social media platforms that were primarily created to foster human connection and openness, consistently integrates structures on the sites that try to quantify human behaviour? According to Van Dijck (2013), random actions and thoughts are no longer supported in many of these platforms, as every action is documented and arranged for measurement purposes.
Hence, we have ‘timelines’ on Facebook, which organizes an individual’s actions on the site, according to day, month and year. Similarly, Twitter has the requirement of 140 characters that limit excessive use of words and allow for easy recognition of patterns and algorithms. This has been discovered to be a tactic to make Twitter similar to the act of ‘texting’ on mobile phones, so that ‘tweeting’ could one day become a normal day to day activity, just like the use of mobile phones (Van Dijck, 2013). What does this mean?
These platform creators know what they are doing and strategize daily to ensure that they infiltrate every system of society through these online sites. Hence, users must become more conscious in their online communication and cease to be steered into changing certain valuable societal norms, such as respect for privacy.
Today’s generation of consumers cannot afford to be lukewarm or ignorant about their actions in online environments. Therefore, each time you register on any site, be informed that you have just provided data and also given permission to receive cookies that will be used to create algorithms from your online practices. Also, be mindful of the fact that it ceases to be private information, the moment it is shared online.
I hope this has been a learning experience for you, as it was for me when I made these discoveries. So, stay logged on to this blog and be informed about communication technologies, as there are a whole lot of other underground activities involved in your online actions, which you may have considered to be inconsequential.
On the grounds of full disclosure, which has been observed to be lacking in the terms of service (ToS) of some of these social media platforms. Also, with absolutely no intent to scare you off, I am obligated to mention here that blogging is also another way information is gathered about individuals.
What kind of blogs, do you follow?