Social Networking: Friend or Foe

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Social networking has become a part of our lives these days whether we like it or not. It used to be a demon you went to bed with on your laptop or netbook but then it started haunting all of us on our smartphones. Now it has come up with ways of penetrating the inner most sanctums of humanity by popping up on our HD TVs; be it Facebook, twitter, myspace or the myriad of other native social networking portals, we tend to showcase our lives on them. The question is whether we should?

I’m a big fan of social networking and I was sold on FB a long time back. In fact I have conducted research on it which suggests that it is a very desirable and powerful tool for learning.

Read: Implementation of Facebook study groups as supplements for learning management systems in adult ODL environments and Development of faboodle to Interact on moodle through facebook

I can vouch for this as FB itself has publicized and educated its 500 million users by running a comprehensive campaign on how predators prowl the social networking alleys and how naïve pedestrians of the information super highway fall prey to them. However it baffles me, nay it disappoints me to still see so called “educated” or even so called “IT experts” showcasing their lives on the streets of the internet. I guess the question for them would be “why do you wash dirty linen on a social networking site which has 500 million walkers-by when you would not do it on a familiar high street with 50 walkers-by”. The simple answer is naiveté but the fact of the matter is stupidity.

So the question arises; is social networking a friend or a foe? Well I would say it is a friend but as with any friend, you need to decide what to share and what not to as you wouldn’t know the kind of friends your friends would have, if you get what I’m saying. So, say for example you have 200 “friends” on your FB account which connects you to possibly 200 more “friends” of each of your friends. In reality you are showcasing your life to at least 40,000 “friends” from all over the world whom you have no clue of. Say you post intimate pictures of you and your partner for your “friends” to see; your friends might like hearing about your life as you are away from them but remember that 40,000 others would also hear and see what you have been up to if the proper privacy rules haven’t been applied. You might end up being blackmailed by someone in say Japan when you are in Indonesia or thereabouts and you will never know how they got those pictures. It’s simple… Once you put your life online it becomes public property and you will never be able to get it back. If you don’t believe me then watch the videos done by FB itself.

The question still remains unanswered; friend or foe? Social networking is easy… It demands the same judgement you would execute at the playground or the gym or college. Friends will be friends no matter where you interact with them and enemies will be enemies, fiends will be fiends, villains will be villains. Thus if you are stupid enough to showcase your life online, you deserve to get into trouble. Well having said that I guess you will soon find out as the albums and photos and comments you delete from your profile are really not deleted. They remain a permanent record of you in cyberspace. Come that day in the future, blame social networking and call it a curse as you will not get the job you deserve. Come that day, blame the guy in Japan who really wasn’t your “friend”; come that day, realise that you have lived in a house of glass walls and nothing is yours anymore. Come that day at least realise how cavalier you have been with your privacy…

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