N. S. Malieieva Candidate of Psychological Sciences, researcher,
Institute of Social and Political Psychology
of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine,
Today when the role of information, communication, development of innovative technologies in the modern society increases rapidly, the development of everyday practices is moving towards a virtual environment. The expansion of network technologies on which the functioning of the modern society is based changes the nature of everyday communication, its’ quantity and quality. It is obvious that communication is being shifted into a single information environment, while communicative processes become faster, more accessible, but at the same time more superficial.
For a modern person who actively investigates the information and communicative environment, social networks have become not just a habitual and convenient means for communicative exchange. They give almost unlimited possibilities to communicate with the whole world. A social network is an automated, interactive social structure consisting of a large number of social objects that are users, user groups or network communities. For them the establishment and maintenance of social intercourses is the main purpose of staying online [3; 4].
A person can build relationships with other users being in the center of his/her own communicative Internet environment which is a virtual page by means of perception and developing of his/her own network content. By using communicative Internet practices he/she listens more attentively to other people, begins to understand better his/her own place in the world that facilitates a more effective interaction with other people.
Being united with common interests or activity, the participants of network interaction can create the content by themselves, filling the common online environment with it. Thus, the social networks increase the level of responsibility of users for the filling of the personal account and information with content that can be viewed by other participants of the common environment. The open nature of communication helps a person to be more sincere and free expressing his/her thoughts and feelings that can be reflected on personal relationships in a real life, causing admiration, condemnation, discontent, or even termination by just one click on a button.
The specifics of social networks in the modern society is connected, first of all, with the fact that by means of interpersonal communication, they can cover the whole world, despite the possible differences in time and spatial limits. The networks give us an opportunity to adjust the communication to circumstances, conditions and needs of life. Thus, the social networks become an alternative environment for everyday social and communicative practices.
The network communication as such is based on the personal desire of regularly interacting inhabitants of the online environment. As a result, the freedom to express a person’s opinion and position in the online environment makes possible a construction of a person’s unique communicative online environment, satisfying his/her needs for recognition, belonging to a group, self-realization, acceptance, support of others, etc. Besides, the need for self-expression contributes to the development of creativity among users who are trying to distinguish themselves in some way and to attract the attention of the network community.
The principles of accessibility and openness that ensure the transparency of interaction are also important for network communication. However, the same principles create favorable conditions for some destructive practices, in particular, aggressive, conflict and manipulative ones. However, given the fact that a large number of different people participate in the network communication, the open nature of communication plays an important role in avoiding distortion of information and regulation of various kinds of violations of ethical norms, etc.
It becomes obvious, that users of social networks have an opportunity for independent construction of their own virtual space, environment, better self-understanding, creative self-expression, etc. In particular, voluntary interaction with other people based on their own desires and possibilities allows a modern personality to feel more free, relaxed, self-confident and capable in the process of communication.
Because of the development of information and communication technologies, both a person and a communicative process undergo transformations. Informatization and technologization of the society has a significant impact on the formation of a new informational worldview which brings to the emergence of a global information society with its new vision of the world. Such society is based on the network principle which includes communication, economy and information exchange [1; 5]. Such type of the society generates a new type of a person with a new type of consciousness which the researchers define in different ways: "Information Man" (Homo Informaticus, Netman), a network personality, an innovative personality, etc. [1; 2; 6; 7].
Such personality is characterized by the increased level of mediated experience gained during his/her stay in the virtual environment, network interaction and online communication. In particular, for a successful socio-psychological adaptation to changes in the environment, communication, network environment, a modern person has constantly adapt to the increase in the level of information flow, instability and the variability of social contacts.
E. Toffler, in particular, pointed out to the changes in certain peculiarities of a person’s character which result in an emergence of a new social character which is a part of a structure of a character typical for the most members of society: "Tomorrow people will be much more different from each other. Many of them will grow older and take responsibility earlier, adapt better and demonstrate more individuality. They will be more inclined to question authorities than our parents. They will try to reach a balance in their lives - the balance between work and entertainment, between production and consumption, between mental and physical labor. We will create a simple and proud race deserving the name of a human race."[5, p. 616–617].
Thus, social networks become more and more important for a life of a modern person and play an important role in his/her creative and professional realization and everyday communication. At the same time, the main value of social networks as an integral part of information and communication technologies is that they represent not only a means and a medium for communication, but also a mechanism for constructing of the communicative environment of the modern society which may be described as a "networking" one.