Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Hot Topic Wednesday - Is Social Media becoming dangerous?

I know how ironic it is that I'm writing about this topic on what may be considered a Social Media platform and that I will later promote what I have written via sites such as Facebook & Twitter. Don't get me wrong I think Social Media is a fantastic tool that has a lot of pro's but I also recognise the potential downfalls involved.
I've been reading a lot of worrying articles recently about Social Media and the expansion of 'Big Brother' technology that is impacting upon people's lives in very negative ways. I've also been writing a Code of Conduct Policy for work that covers, you guessed it the topic of Social Media, so it's been on my mind a lot.
Social Media sites have been growing over the years from MySpace through to Facebook and Twitter and there is no questioning that they have become a big part of 21st Century culture. Documenting our lives on these platforms has become an everyday chore on par with brushing our teeth or eating our breakfast. I'm guilty of spending far too much time scrolling through Facebook aimlessly or uploading image after image to Instagram when I could be out actually living my life instead of staring at a computer screen.
That said I do put a limit on how much time I spend on Social Media sites and how much of my life I reveal online. What happens though when someone steals your online identity and turn's you into a fictional person with a life that is completely separate from your own.
This is what happened to Ruth Palmer. A stranger (still unknown to her) stole her online identity turning her into Leah Palmer (maybe a Twin Peaks reference there): an attractive, single 20-something Brit working abroad and enjoying life in Dubai.
They regularly lifted images off her Facebook and uploaded them to create the false profiles on everything from Instagram to dating website Tinder. Even more worryingly this person didn't stop at just Ruth, they began creating profiles of her supposed 'friends and family' and communicating between accounts.
Despite Ruth being happily committed to her boyfriend Benjamin, 'Leah' was having online relationships with a host of men that she had met on dating app Tinder, while her current boyfriend was branded a psychotic, jealous ex!
This story is worrying on so many levels and according to Police very common in todays society. This is a prime example of when Social Media becomes dangerous. Not only has this had a negative effect on Ruth but also her friends, family, boyfriend and male suitor's that she'd never even met.
I'm a massive fan of Catfish which really delves into online relationships and how seemingly genuine people are actually fictional characters created from various Social Media sources. It really highlights how much of a problem this has become within todays society and how easy it is to access peoples photo's and create these fake profiles.
This is just one example of how Social Media can impact upon peoples lives, so why interact on these sites. I personally do it because I like to share my life with my friends and family, not in a 'showy, look what I'm doing kind of way' but just so I can share what's going on with those I care most about and I can look back at this record of my life when I'm older. I think this is part of the reason I blog aswell.
I also love having an insight into other peoples lives and learning from others experiences and opinions, be that a top restaurant tip or someone's deeply personal experiences in life. Although sometimes tiresome (receiving another Candy Crush request) I find sites like Twitter inspiring and a great tool for interacting with a wider audience.
I do however see how Social Media & Technology could potentially get out of control in the future. If your interested in this concept check out the Black Mirror series, created by Charlie Brooker. It highlights the potential for technology gone mad in a much more elegant, compelling manner then I can.
What do you think? Social Media: friend or foe?

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