Social Networking Sites – Doing More Harm Than Good?


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Ever came across headlines like “ The Social Media  Revolution:How the Arab Spring Was Helped By Social Media ” ?

Or statements like “I am seriously considering of disconnecting the internet service at home. All these hours spent on Facebook are bringing down my son’s grades!!” ?

Or do the following sound more familiar?

“Thanks to these social networking sites, I now get more clients than before for my business ventures!”
“If it was not for Facebook, I wouldn’t have been able to reconnecy with old school friends and stay in touch with family.”

In this day and age, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, have become more of a necessity than a source of entertainment, and are constantly in a state of evolution. In order to fully determine whether these sites do more harm than good, one must first closely look at what they actually are. The dictionary defines the term “social” as “needing the company of others” or “(of an activity) in which people meet for pleasure”, while “network” is defined as “a group of people who contact each other to exchange information” or “to interact with others to exchange information”. In short , social networking sites are those sites where one makes a “profile” of one’s likes, dislikes, activities, etc and shares it with other like-minded people.

 

There are always two sides to a picture, and social networking sites bear no exception; they have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

 

One of the major disadvantages of these social networking sites is that one tends to believe the information and spread it further without checking its authenticity. This often promotes an air of unnecessary sensation.

 

Besides, majority of the users of these sites are juveniles who not only waste their time interacting with unknown people but also create supplementary problems that add to the ever-increasing social issues.

 

Another cause for concern is the disconcerting fact that these social networking sites act as a petri dish for the rapidly increasing rate of cyber crimes.

 

Besides using these sites to reach out to friends and families, many political parties use these sites as effective means of executing election campaigns; first the United States’ recent Presidential Elections and now our very own 2013 Elections. One man’s meat is another man’s poison; while it may serve the political organizations’ purposes, it may incur political unrest.

 

Also, it is an undeniable fact that such sites do act as an open platform for promotion of sectarian differences, and hence, pose a tangible threat to national security. After all, how many of us have thought twice before posting jokes on Facebook at the expense of any particular sect?

The recent Arab Uprising also supports this particular stance since it is now universally understood that Facebook was used to instigate the Uprising that proceeded.

 

Many users use these sites during their work hours, squandering their time and being less attentive towards their professional duties. The result: their work suffers and ultimately, so does their per capita income perhaps.

 

However there are a number of people who beg to differ. They claim that in such a fast paced world as ours, social networking sites are nothing short of a blessing for many, because according to Baruch Spinoza, “Man is a social animal”. It is quite natural for one human to desire another human’s company, and social networking sites came to our aid here. Thanks to these sites, exchanging photographs and recent happenings of friends and family, is just a click away. The days of postal mail were numbered long ago.

 

Inventions were made to aid mankind, but it is upto man to determine to what use he puts it. To blame the invention or to adopt a bias opinion, is quite Quixotic.

 

Social networking sites, as claimed by many, have also proved to be quite productive for the business and industrial sector. Many small-scale and large-scale industries are using these websites to add new dimensions to marketing and advertising. Companies use these websites to gain a better understanding of the needs and wants of their respected consumers and to reach out to their target audience.

 

It is also argued by many that quite a number of social welfare organizations and non-profit organizations use these websites to create much needed awareness about social issues that have been begging for our attention since years.

 

Times change, and we with time; and to advocate just one side of the case, will be a case of wasting one’s breath. Man is supposed to be the best of God’s creations for he is bestowed with wisdom. However, if he does not employ it to a productive cause, then the fault lies completely at his door.

It is man’s psychological need to remain surrounded by friends who relieve him of the trials of life, as quoted by Aristotle “A person who cannot live in society, or does not need to because he is self-sufficient, is either a beast or a god”, and in today’s world, social networking sites effectively serve the purpose.

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