Here is a feature story I wrote for class a few months ago. I eventually took it and turned it into a web story, but until I get the formatting down, this draft will do.
Online social networking may not be as helpful at connecting cultures as they claim and also may be damaging the socializing abilities of young Americans.
According to an article on the WebProNews website, a study conducted by Pew Internet and America Life Project found that 7 percent of Americans rely solely on the Internet for the majority of their social communication. Manager of the department of Foreign Languages office Abigail Miller says online communication takes away certain risk factors of communicating in person and seems to be an easier way to endure certain social situations.
“It’s a lot easier than face-to-face interaction. It takes a certain level of emotion away,” Miller says.
“I can definitely see guys with ‘yellow fever’ getting online to find young Asian girls to chat dirty with,” Miller says.
Some young adults recognize the obsession with online interaction and steer clear of it. WVU public relations student Chelsey Hathaway says she doesn’t even have a social network account, such as Facebook.
“It causes too much drama in relationship, like when they start putting up pictures. Because I’m not good with stuff like that, I don’t even bother,” Hathaway says.
Broadcast news student R.J. Ritchie says he has never used it to meet people and the people he does socialize with online are already people he has real contact with.
“I’ve never met anyone on there I didn’t already know. I use it to keep in touch with people I know and have relationships with,” Ritchie says.
Miller says she feels that although it helps those who already know each other stay connected, it doesn’t help global cultures bond.
“There is no way to connect online [globally]. The only time when I would use it [to connect globally] is when I’m abroad,” Miller says.
Ritchie says Facebook gives people an unnecessary opportunity to tell everyone what is happening.
“I know people who are constantly updating their status. You don’t have to put anything if it’s not important,” Ritchie says.
Engineering student Travis Nichols says he too has never met anyone online.
Not only does Facebook lack the cultural connectivity edge, but it may be stunting the intelligence of young adults. According to The Core Knowledge Blog, a new study featured in Time Magazine conducted by the American Education Research Association found that the GPAs of college Facebook users typically ranged a full grade lower than those of nonusers.
“I think it [Facebook] encourages stupidity. Convenience is something we value as a culture,” Miller says.
Hathaway agrees with the idea that young Americans are too dependent on technology and online socializing.
“Think about it. When you are walking to class, you have your iPod. When you are at home, you’re talking online. People are never alone anymore. Everybody is waiting on the next big thing [in technological development] and we want to be a part of it,” Hathaway says.
Facebook continues to be one of the top social networks among young adults today.