Social Media and Strangers: The Changing Face of Interaction

by Charlotte Muscroft

7 June, 2013

For generations parents have warned their children not to talk to strangers. This advice is solid for those who contemplate accepting candy from windowless vans, but with the abundance of social media in this present day, is this advice still realistic?

According to Facebook research from Nov. 20, 2011, 4.74 degrees separated the users of Facebook. This suggests that strangers are not completely strangers, as 4.74 friends of friends connect you to someone on the other side of the world. And, I’m sure that number is even higher today.

Even parents that share this advice have broken their own rules. Today, many parents met each other online as strangers. According to a University of Chicago study, 35 percent of married couples that tied the knot between 2005 and 2012 met online.

Although it can seem quite scary that via social media a great abundance of people can see you, read your thoughts and see what you ate for dinner, social media provides great opportunities for people across the world to find others who can make their dreams a reality.

When looking for jobs, in many instances it is not what you know, but whom you know. Having a connection on the inside can help a job seeker more than a great cover letter or resume.

From a business standpoint, social media provides a window of reach that no other medium can compete with. The customer that a business wants and the human capital they need are closer than ever.

While “don’t talk to strangers” no longer seems to ring true, the advice of “thinking before you speak” has greatly increased its credibility and value in recent years.

When posting any sort of content online, save a few privacy settings, the owner no longer controls who sees it. This particularly finds prevalence with Twitter, as users can view the accounts and tweets of any user. This means that it is so important to think before you post on your personal accounts and especially on any business accounts you may handle. Just ask the Taco Bell shell licker guy, who may have gone viral, but also now is unemployed.