Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Dangers of Online Social Networking

Believe it or not, social networking sites such as Facebook (FB), Twitter, MySpace or the now obsolete Friendster bring a lot of subtle degradation to a human. I first heard of such a comment from the head of the TOK department at the IB World School where I used to study. The honourable lady could not tolerate the idea of youngsters having these accounts. Previously, I have met even more mature young and olDER (;p) individuals who refuse to get involved in all the FB hoo-haa.

I've listed a few bad points below:

1. FB can be used to seek attention. Undeniably, when people post up pictures of themselves, they often filter them first to choose the ones that 'beautify' them the most, according to how they would like other people to perceive them.

2. FB can instill jealousy, inferiority and negative competitiveness. How many of us use FB to stalk the profiles of our peers or people unknown to us? It's like a dictionary with people's names as entries instead of words! Someone may be enourmously popular on FB, with a lot of photogenic pictures, tons of friendly comments and great achievements. What kind of thoughts will this instill into a person who has low self esteem? FB has now become a tool of secret comparison! It's sad because each of us are made in the image of God and we are all differently unique to Him. Why should we compare and contrast each other online and be miserable afterwards. Self worth is important! As it is true that one should use FB with precaution, some would blame people who get affected as 'weak'. Agreeably, we should know how to cherish ourselves but sometimes, an individual would not realize how he or she is destroying their own self worth by their mindless surfings through the site.

3. FB diminishes the value of privacy. How many times have we seen MSN-like conversations on our friend's walls? How many times have we seen emotional personal statuses on our Home page? Isn't it the norm to see our friends kissing and cuddling on FB? I've even seen a cat fight take place on FB and slurs against each other on the site. People use it to VENT! But some things are better kept to oneself. The world doesn't need to know if you've done the most noblest thing, or if someone has just hurt you deeply. It's alright if the posts are mild, but sometimes, they are used to hurt other people back, retaliate in the spirit of revenge, spread gossip, make others jealous, etc. My point is, FB should not be used for the wrong intentions, yet it seems like the perfect place for those intentions whenever our emotions are unstable.

This is not a pros and cons high school essay. The pros of FB are all too obvious. It helps to connect the world, establishes 'death of distance', helps family and friends communicate and keep abreast of each other, network in the job market, build relationships etc. Yes, there are the good points. But there are the bad as well. Use FB with a pinch of salt.

I recently read somewhere that people who are virtuous or those who believe strongly in religion do not use FB in a negative manner because they have something greater that matters a lot to them. They do not derive confidence from the world but rather, seek it from their inner self or God.

Sad to say, I am not in the most recently mentioned category. Admittedly, I am a sad owner of an FB account myself! There is a long way for me to go, but at least I am aware of how there is so much more out there, away from the world of online social networking.

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