Social networking sites such as Facebook allow individuals to share themselves, express their individuality, and create or maintain personal and business contacts.
Sites such as facebook can help establish and facilitate businesses, aid in romantic relationships, and help individuals relate to each other with shared welfare such as music, politics or religion. The account holder may use the sites to network with people they already know offline or find ways to broaden their horizon and meet new people. Facebook members can find ways to meet new people who have shared interests, by joining virtual groups that have members with common interests, hobbies and musical tastes, for example. Some individuals also find it easier to establish romantic relationships by reading a person’s relationship status, which is available on the profile page. Facebook is a powerful way to cultivate relationships, and it is a method available to nearly everyone.
Facebook is also a useful site for those who aren’t interested in paying for the privilege of networking. This free networking platform provides Facebook users with the ability to continue existing social ties and create new ones. The intent of Facebook is to allow participants using this system to relate with others outside their pre-existing group, liberating them to expand to communities with shared interests, as opposed to shared geography
Facebook was created in 2004, and by 2007 it was reported to have more than 21 million registered members generating 1.6 billion page views each day. The site is tightly integrated into the daily media practices of its users. The typical user spends about 20 minutes a day on the site, and two-thirds of users log in at least once a day. In my opinion, the positive outcomes of utilizing Facebook far exceed the negative outcomes. Some say that social media sites take away from the intimacy of relationships, the rate of obesity has grown and the effects of gamma rays and harmful substances released into our systems by using our computers on a more than regular basis are detrimental. Facebook also provides for the opportunity for online bullying. Recently, a girl in Port Coquitlam committed suicide because she was being bullied online. She changed schools three times to try to get away from those who were harassing her, but the online pages followed her wherever she went. She said in a video five weeks before her death that she made a mistake by showing someone her breasts. That image was put onto Facebook and it ruined her. Other hateful uses of Facebook include the opportunity for cyber terrorism. It is easy to organize flash mobs online and this has played a role in harming many people who are the victims of such an attack. Facebook also provides people with a way to organize other forms of hate. The Nazi party is obviously not as prevalent as it was during World War II, but Nazi-related events have been organized, and this was facilitated by Facebook. The social networking platform really brings out the good and bad in society, and it requires a careful balance in order to make sure that hate propagation is closely monitored. Without addressing many of the issues related to hate, Facebook is in danger of being known as a facilitator of activities which are harmful to people and to society as a whole. More regulation over the use of Facebook, with harsher penalties for those who look to harm others are needed in order for Facebook to be a truly altruistic online networking platform.
But if we look at the big picture, the positives have so much more to offer; for example, individuals who spend more time on Facebook are better at showing “virtual empathy” to their online friends. Online social networking can help introverted adolescents learn how to socialize behind the safety of various screens, ranging from a two-inch smartphone to a 17-inch laptop, for example. Social networking can also provide tools for teaching in compelling ways that engage young students, while also connecting participants through research and determination.
I found a very touching article while researching this topic and it made me really appreciate the concept of Facebook. There was a beautiful piece written about a father and daughter reunited after spending 20 years apart. The mother had taken the daughter away while leaving the distraught father with no contact information to keep in touch with his daughter. It was through Facebook that he was given a chance to be a part of his daughter’s life. He posted pictures and information pertaining to his daughter and, through this simple act, he was able to reconnect with her after nearly two decades. This is not the only story; there are hundreds of stories out there in which people found lost love, families and friends. Statistics show that the use of Facebook is now in the billions, ranging in personal idealism to professional connections. Some mind-blowing stats include:
§ Over 1.13 trillion likes since the feature was launched in February 2009
§ 140.3 billion friend connections
§ 219 billion photos uploaded
§ 62% of marking companies say that Facebook is one of the most effective and necessary marking tools
§ Brand companies and groups have found a 42% increase in the amount of site visitors due to Facebook.
Let me elaborate on a few of them in more detail:
- Business; Facebook crossed the 100-million member mark last year, and the exploration and experiment of various features were noteworthy to the many of local business owners. Some features include wall notes, links, photos, tagging, videos, events, groups, pages, etc., and numerous third-party apps. Facebook establishes an outpost for businesses on the web, unlike Facebook’s personal profiles – which are member-only accessible – Facebook Fan Pages are public-facing by default. That is, people need not be logged into Facebook to view a business’s Fan Page, so even more people have access to the information posted. Another great intent is it drives traffic to a person’s website. Fan Pages have no restrictions on driving Facebook traffic to websites. In fact, Facebook encourages you to link to your website from your business’s Fan Page. Redirecting even a small portion of Facebook’s huge amount of daily traffic to a website could significantly improve the amount of qualified traffic on the site. Fan Pages also allows business owners to engage with the community easily and for free. The platform provides a free alternative to implementing customer engagement on the site.
- Ease of Use; Facebook is clean and uncluttered. If the user knows how to use Windows, they would know how to use Facebook. All a person needs is time to discover its numerous features.
- Visibility & Transparency; What a person says and does online is visible to the linked contacts. And what the contacts say is visible to that person. Also, what a contact says and does online is visible to everyone else when they comment on a post that the person says or posts on that person’s Wall. This means that both parties’ contacts can see what is being said. A person can easily introduce ideas and sites, and virtually anything else. This promotes the co-discovery about one another and about the many ideas, sites and other activities.
- Social Mission; An individual can create a Group, Page or Cause to gain support for ideas that they believe in. For example, any particular interest and topics can be created through a forum that allows others around the world to contribute.
There are also many religious groups and organizations that reap the benefits of using Facebook as not only a virtual centre to bring their communities together, but to also spread the message of their congregation, for example. The amount of Christian facebook communities on Facebook is abundant and in regular use. There is one site, “Bible Christian Center,” where the posts on the page encourage sharing the new phase of their lord and to allow everyone to share with them in what they deem to be a wonderful event. The church itself is geographically limited; however, the blessings of those around the world are virtually unlimited. The words of empowerment on the pages can be inspirational and very positive for many people. For example, in Matthew 15:28: “Then Jesus answered, ‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour.” This is to show that any pain you have on a secular level can be healed at a belief level, all shared amongst the page user. In my subjective opinion, many participants need that healing power of others in order to feel that they will get through whatever ails them. The connection and virtual love and healing is what allows others to move on and cope with their demise situations.
In the United States, LifeWay Research – a congregational research organization affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention – on Jan. 21 released the results of a study showing that nearly half of Protestant churches use Facebook, while 40% do not use any social networking tools. However, the trend is towards greater adoption of social networking tools.
Many ministries, religious nonprofits, houses of worship, clergy and small-group ministries now routinely maintain pages on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn or other secular social networking sites, and many more religious groups and individuals have established presences on religion-oriented sites, such as ChristianNetwork and Muslimsocial.com. Twitter is also having an impact, as some clergy and laypeople tweet prayers, meditations and even entire religious services or the whole of the Bible .
There are also the reasons of the inspirational pictures that can be posted on Facebook easily disturbed among members or non members. I was conducting my research and one Facebook page I found a very beautiful picture of a mother and her child, and it made me think I would love to have this in my study. Once I started to read the caption it had, the saying “A gracious woman is respected, but a woman without virtue is disgrace,” (Proverbs 11:16). It certainly made me think what the picture was representing.
The use of Facebook is as common as sliced bread. Facebook allows many users to participate and communicate in ways that allow them to express themselves or gain insights on a variety of topics, and religion is perhaps the most evident one. I feel greatly appreciative of Facebook, as it not only does allows me connect with friends and families that live on the other side of the world, but it also lets me connect with new individuals and groups. I have a very strong faith base, and even though Christianity may not be my first religion to practice, I have certainly had the wonderful opportunity conducting research on it with the help of Facebook.
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God and Facebook: Is social networking changing religion? (2012). Religion Link. Retrieved from http://www.religionlink.com/tip_110125.php
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