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Social Networking: Boon or Bane?

Updated on November 6, 2012

I was watching an episode of The Simpsons last Sunday. The show was about an issue that all of us can relate to, social networking. Lisa was put on trial because she started up a social networking site because she wanted to be accepted. When the site was up and running, everybody was fixated. They logged on to the site through their phones and laptops. It became their way of living because they were practically on the site nonstop. Social Networking has changed how we communicate with people. Some people may find it advantageous while some say it's detrimental. People often ask this question, is social networking boon or bane? Let me give you the pros and cons.

1. Social networking sites keep you connected to old and new friends. I had a classmate in elementary whom I wasn't close to, reconnected with me through Facebook. It was a huge surprise because we haven't seen and talked to each other in ages. Social networking has bridged the communication gap between individuals and has helped people communicate with people from all parts of the world.

2. It's one of the best ways to promote one's business. You can place advertisements on every social networking site. Businesses get noticed easily because the social networking site can help spread the word around and get your message across. You can have potential customers if they "liked" your page.

3. Information can be disseminated through Facebook and Twitter. You don't have to turn on the television to watch the news and get the latest updates. Everything can be read online. A person can make headlines by becoming a trending topic on Twitter. Reading the news has never been easier and hipper with the help of social networking.

4. Freedom of speech is the name of the game. You can say what you want to say because it's your right as a citizen to speak your mind. If you want to vent or blow off some steam, nobody is going to hold you back because it's a fundamental right to express yourself.

5. Social networking sites have created awareness on people. If you are fighting for a good cause, networking is the perfect avenue. Mark Zuckerberg's wife made a Facebook page about how to become a donor. Since that page was launched, people have signed on to become donors. If there is an uprising in a country such as in Egypt, people come together to express their grievances about a particular issue. The citizens were able to overthrow a dictator with the help of Twitter and Facebook.

6. Social networking sites make it easier to capture our best moments and relive our memories. When we share our joyous occasions such as birthdays, graduation , and birth of our child, the sites allow us to spread happiness and positivity to our fellowmen.

Let's discuss the flip side.

1. Loss of privacy. Since our information is available for all the world to see, privacy is totally unheard of. This can cause identity theft and invasion of privacy. People can keep track of what a person is doing by logging on to these sites. Cyber bullying has been the common problem of most students. There was a time when a student spied on his roommate during his unguarded moments by uploading the video on Facebook and Twitter. This prompted the roommate to commit suicide while the perpetrator landed in jail.

2. Freedom of speech can get you into trouble. Most employees would ask applicants if they have a Facebook or a Twitter account. When a disgruntled employee vents, your boss might read your posts and might lead to your dismissal. Be careful when posting pictures or statements on these sites because it might hurt your chances of employment.

3. We are so fixated on technology that we forget to take a break. In the episode that I saw, Homer was driving while texting. He didn't see the old man crossing the street. When he put on the brakes, it was too late to save the man from danger. It created accidents on the road and endangered a person's safety. There is a time for play. We have to take a break from social networking from time to time.

4. Most children are in front of the computer more than an hour a day. There is no room for face-to face interaction since people would prefer to make friends online. Human interaction is a vital tool even at this day and age because chemistry can determine if friendship can last for a lifetime. Social networking has stifled the affective domain. When Lisa's site was pulled out, her classmates invited her to join an outdoor activity with her dad. The show ended with Homer and Lisa playing with her classmates in their garden. We have to socialize through verbal communication and not just through online chat.

5. Some people have noticed that writing complete sentences has gone obsolete. Most words are not properly abbreviated and grammar is fractured because you are only allowed to write a certain number of characters in a given space. The way you communicate reflects your character. Some students make up their own sentences and jargons to relay their message. We need to be cautious of our language when we post our thoughts online.

6. These sites have often become a target for online predators. Internet pornography is a booming business and some sites would traffic minors through different sites. Since their profiles are on Facebook, pedophiles can easily hack into one's account and get to know children and teenagers by chatting online. It has become a dangerous territory. Personally, I wouldn't encourage minors to have a Facebook account since parents wouldn't know their activities while surfing the net. They can easily chat with strangers online and could become a potential target for internet pornography.

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