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Our Social Media and Online Behavior

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This article is more of a commentary than a regular tech gear review or article. What sparked my interest in writing this type of article was how our society has increasingly turned to social media and other forms of online and electronic types of communication for everyday life – business and especially social. I’m not exactly sure what to make of it - - whether it is a good thing, or rather it’s somewhat detrimental to our culture.

There is one main reason in particular that I say this. I know that we have an amendment that states that we have free speech as a right, but does that give us the right to write anything we want about others or about ourselves? And why is it that so many people are much braver behind the screen of a computer or Smartphone, or in cyberspace? If you tweet something that’s not so good about someone, would you have that same bravado and say that same thing to that person’s face? What motivates individuals to act out in some sort of deviant way just because they are online?

The same thing goes for emails. I have one rule of thumb; if I wouldn’t say something to anyone in person, I wouldn’t put it in an email and send it. Do we need to stop and think twice before we hit the “send” button? My answer would be a resounding yes.

Just like in real life, we follow certain schools of thought: to look both ways before crossing the street; to treat people the way you want to be treated; to do no harm to anyone; to practice what you preach; and so on. Don’t get me wrong, communicating via social networking can be a good and enjoyable, but what I also truly fail to understand is why someone would go as far as masquerading as a whole other individual or persona.

Recently, I was changing cable channels and saw a show called “Catfish”. For those of you who don’t have any idea what this show is, it is a reality TV program about a bright, intelligent young man who thought he was communicating with an attractive female online, but it turned out to be someone entirely the opposite. He took his experience, and turned it into a hit TV show, and now devotes a good deal of his time answering emails of people who think they are in the middle of a similar situation.

The show sparked such an interest in me that I was moved to write an article about it. His work is truly heroic, and he has helped many people track down the person behind the screen who is more than likely acting someone who they are not. Not only was I so intrigued by what inspires people to do such things, but also how they thought that they were going to continue to get away with what they were doing - - which goes back to my original question in this article, which is why are people so much braver behind the screen?

I know some of us might have stretched the truth just a bit about on our online LinkedIn profiles or Facebook pages, but being another whole other person or saying something so wrong or offensive is way out in left field. One would have to stop and think at some point that one day, it would all come back, and you would be caught in a big fat lie. Who wants that? I am all about freedom of expression - - after all, I am a writer and a blogger, but let’s not take things too far just because we are able to “hide” behind the undercover of the internet.

So, if I can leave my readers with a final thought on all of this, it would be to speak online as you would in person and just be yourself…it is who you really are after all, isn’t it?

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