What the Trends in Social Networking Reviews Suggests: Identity Crisis and Confusion

Infographic on how Social Media are being used...
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What impact is social media, networking having upon relationships? The question is simple and the answers given are loaded with different opinions. Relationships are at the core of the discussion and reveal changing perceptions and an emergent paradigm developing. A quick Google search will reveal pages of links to web pages that offer opinions and suggestions.

Business is integrated into social relationship creating potential questions about efficacy in mixing business and pleasure. In a recent blog on Harvard Business Review , Jodi Glickman notes that young adults in the workplace are abandoning emails and moving toward social media as one of their primary modes of communication, Because social media is so, well, social, the lines are becoming increasingly blurred between business and personal matters. ( Thom Rainer) An important part of the question is connected with a sense of self, identity, and role expectations.

The shifting reliance upon social media and networking sites raises an important question about how we understand relationships and utilize boundaries in regulating relationships to create effective outcome in life. An answer to the question about measurable impact upon relationships that it is good, but also bad. Social media has become so commonplace many have a hard time even thinking how they’d live without it. “We’re getting reliant on Facebook to keep us updated,” said Malia Griggs, editor of the University of South Carolina‘s student magazine. Griggs wrote an article last year taking a satirical jab at how Facebook is changing the way we communicate. Personal relationships, she says, are now a matter of public discourse. “It’s less personal its less between you and that person, now there’s room for others to come in and comment on it,” said Griggs. “There’s a lot more room for feedback from your friends and people who aren’t even your close friends.” You can tap into it anywhere, anytime — an online existence so vast and absorbing, most offices have policies against it. Malia Griggs The impact upon the business-relationship dichotomy has paradoxical implications: While on the one hand enhancing market presence, providing technological convenience, a constant Internet “Brand” which is identifiable and available, at the same time blurring the lines between professional and personal identity. Potential danger is identified by Glickman (2011) in Harvard Business Review who said that, “with technological interchangeability comes risk—maintaining relationships with friends with whom you do business and keeping business out of the realm of your friendships.” This observation identifies questions about how and what will define relationships as well as what principles govern what is appropriate in each context.

There is a wealth of information that shows how relationships, networking, and connection have upon business. However how can you know when, “friendliness has become a liability” (Glickman)? One good sign is when what occurs in the private world is so indistinct that there not a clear understanding of how professional identity is different from personal identity. Private problems on public networks bring people into your personal life that may not be anticipated or wanted. Attorney David Shea said that “In divorce cases, it’s amazing how often we use this now … We’re on Facebook several times a day.”( Shea)

Private problems become public matters affecting, not only the perception that people have, but it has an  impact upon effectiveness that can make or break a career, a marriage–your life. Everyone needs good friends, but a missing boundary that is important is privacy: everyone does not have the right to know everything about you– ask whatever they want, especially about deeply personal matters that may prejudice perception when shared.

Two good points to be made are: Collaboration is Critical and Relationships are Important. ( Thom Rainer) However, there must be fundamental balance discovered about what boundaries should characterize the shifting emphasis from a solo voice to group voice—individual identity and group identity. Social networking is not going away and is certainly the most effective immutable principle that will predict life or death in the business world today. More research needs to be done and greater understanding gained will be integral to creating responsibility and balance that says about social networking, “I choose to learn from it and make the best of it’ (Rainer).


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