Implications of Social Networking Media in Late Modernity

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Identify and discuss the implications of social networking media for social interaction in late modernity. ___________________________________________________

Much has been written about the erosion of the influence of traditional agents of socialisation like family, schools, and communities. etc in the era of late modernity. Many a reason has been ascribed to this phenomenon, among others the view that traditional agencies do not fulfill the needs of the new generation of youths in this era. Perhaps it is the degeneration of the values which used to hold these agencies, or perhaps it is the ability to replace these agencies, often viewed as archaic, with new influences. These traditional social structures and “canonized cultural orientations” (Glastra et al, 2004) no longer provide the individual with a place and purpose in life (Strain, 2000). In contemporary society individuals need to be able to re-create themselves (Bagnall, 2001) in order to cope with change (Fryer, 1997) so as to arrive at a place where they either feel at home or accept that they are different (Bauman, 2004). Since the advent of the Internet and the closing of world borders due to globalisation, any community in any part of the world is able to broadcast any form of message or ideas thus causing a fragmentation of societies everywhere (Putnam, 1995). However Anderson counters that access to different people and different cultures is "not fragmenting.. more, reforming along different dimensions (Anderson: 2006, 191) Responding to this more and more individuals are drawn to utilize the Web as a primary tool of social interaction and discourse. One such form of participation on the Internet is the online social networks, like, Friendster, MySpace, Bebo and lately, Facebook. These networks create an online community in which a person creates a profile and then connects to other users. The user generates this profile by offering up a range of personal information in a variety of media types, from a catalogue of favorite videos, to reading lists, hobbies, blogs, games, and favorite quotes. “…social sites are a way for people to interact as they never could before with such ease” (Wilson : 2000, 12). These Social Networking Sites (SNS) allow people to interact and congregate amid a niche culture thus making its members more social, involved, and motivated to participate out of genuine interest (Anderson, 2006). As more networks obtain an on-line presence, the Internet links them and provides channels for them to promote and disseminate ideas, and interact with other networks (Rheingold: 2002, 59). This essay will examine the popular SNS and the trend of such popularity, and also discuss the effects such online networks have on social interaction in late modernity.

A few definitions of the key terms in this topic is logical before launching into a discussion of it. "Late modernity", is a result of contemporary societies being in constant continuous transitions, changes and developments. It is not a new stage of development nor can it be deemed postmodern because it is still modern but has not stopped developing (Beck: 1992, Giddens: 1991, Lash: 1990). This state of constant change and development has also been termed as liquid modernity (Bauman : 2000). In the face of such liquid times, there is an accumulation of insecurity, fear, lack of trust and uncertainties which by and large affect the individual's socialisation process. Therefore the search for self becomes the personal goal in order to find a society founded on certainty, trust and recognition (Bauman: 2000, Beck: 2000). "Social Networking Media" is an online media that focuses on building communities of people who share interests and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. The main types of social networking services are those which contain directories of some categories, means to connect with friends and verification systems linked to...
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