Since the advent of social networks sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter among others, human interaction has undergone a significant transformation. And with the popularity with which these sites have gained, it is unreasonable to dispute the fact that people want to be socially connected online. Boyd and Ellison (2007) defined online social networks as web-based platforms that allow their users to construct public profiles and to connect and share information and ideas with other users.
Social and Cultural Effects
The emergence of Facebook as a leading social network in the recent years has significantly impacted cultural and social relations. For instance, through friend lists and association on Facebook, its users are able to find, meet, and communicate to each other more easily. Moreover, Facebook also houses hundreds of thousands groups and fan pages, organized around various social and cultural beliefs. Different cultures are also easily passed down due to the prompt communication, innovative and interactive features of the social network (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). Additionally, followers of this social site are given an opportunity to develop their diverse cultural maps owing to the social-cultural diversity of its users.
Potential effect on face-to-face interaction
As the use of internet increasingly become popular across all ages, more and more people, especially the young rely on social sites for communication. On Facebook, most young people can express themselves without fear and anxiety that they may experience in physical communication. In fact, people who easily get social anxiety can fluently express themselves via internet communication. However, most of young Facebook users are over reliant on the site for communication which renders them ineffective in expressing their true mind by face-to-face communication. Strangely also, users prefer sharing their life experiences with strangers online than discussing them with relatives, family or real-life friends. This effect has reduced face to face interactions between them and sometimes do lead to poor interpersonal relationships due to broken communications.
Possible future trends
Facebook is growing in popularity on daily basis across all age groups. This has significant effect on all fronts: socially, culturally, and technologically. For example, more information will be available digitally while intervention measures for data privacy will be inevitable. Social networks must thus critically consider introduction of filters that will promote access to only relevant information (White& Le Cornu, 2011). Also, it might lead to undermining of authority model of news sources because social network has made community a key player in information sharing as opposed to proprietary channels. Overall, future trends will entail increased mobility, growth in mobile social network users, increased sharing of personal information, and reduced privacy.
The new wave of online social networking through is gradually phasing out traditional agents of socialization. The fast evolution of social networks is evident from the way the world has been turned into a small village, all information available at the click of a mouse button!