The Pros and Cons of Social Networking

The recent news of the acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook for a whopping £19 billion may have stumped many but for the millions who are hooked on to software applications that make many day-to-day tasking simpler and faster, that’s just more ‘cool’ news! No doubt Facebook realized the usefulness of the app and the immense potential it offered by way of reach and popularity, especially by the game changers, Gen-Next.

A few decades ago, the Internet was in its infancy and it has completely revolutionized the way the world functions, both personally and professionally. Until a few years ago the concept of social networking was a revolutionary idea that would not have had many takers.

The Internet Revolution

But the scene has been transformed dramatically; almost everyone on the planet has heard of Facebook, Twitter and MySpace besides many others that are in daily use. While the Internet and software packages provided the way for people to communicate with each other, these social networking sites have made it possible for old friends and schoolmates to reconnect, forged new friendships across generations, provided a platform for sharing and arguing views and viewpoints from food to fashion, pets to people, upload photos of almost anything that people wish to share and so much more.

But simply taking everything new at face value does not augur well for humankind. And here’s why.

There are many disadvantages equaling the advantages of the Web, social networking and dependence on technology, but it’s worth the time to examine a few that come up front.

Social Media – its Pros

1. New social connections – More adults have increasingly used social networking sites to connect with family and friends; the other category is the teens, where new friendships across peer groups and seniors are established.

2. More interaction and sharing of information on school work – students use the Internet to gather information, discuss school projects and help each other thus being able to absorb more information on a wider range of subjects.

3. Ensure better quality of life – in earlier days, there was no pool of information that people could have access to and depended on word of mouth to know details. All that has now changed. People are more willing to share information on their experiences, both good and bad on social sites; several health support groups and advocacy groups enlighten people on critical health issues, civic issues, political issues and many others so that people are better informed.

4. Advertising forum – Virtually every opportunity of employment, job sourcing and recruitment besides volumes of sales & marketing, product launches and updates are available making it easier for people to read, review and decide products, brands, companies and many more that they would like to be associated with.

5. Increased awareness and prosecution of criminal activities – World over police and law enforcement officials are using social media and networking sites to track offenders and criminals who commit audacious crimes and use technology to cover their tracks.

Social media – the Cons

1. Social media sites have upstaged print and other publications as news sources over the last few years.

2. As much as a student using the Internet and other sites to gather information is welcomed, the downside is that too much dependence on electronic information gives hardly any mental or intellectual exercise of thinking powers to seek, question and gather information. Recent studies show that students who are practically tuned in to social media sites most of the time lag behind peers who are better informed and more knowledgeable on many issues.

3. The ratio of misinformation on the Web is too much to put a figure to. The spread of news, mostly unverified and unauthentic, is rampant and there is no process to check the growth of websites, blogs and other forums that provide information and supposedly unsolicited advice on a host of topics from careers to personal relationships, lifestyle habits and nutritional health supplements, medical bulletins and many more. People tend to lean on the belief that whatever information is there on the Net, it must be authentic, which is not always the case.

4. The total absence of one-on-one communication between families, friends and colleagues is seen as direct fallout of social media usage. People use technology to convey views and messages and generally anything that they are unable to say face to face from behind the cover of a tech gadget, leading to miscommunication and misunderstanding. What can be simply but effectively said in a few words now takes the guise of shortened, cryptic text messages.

5. Corporate companies lay the blame for less productivity at work on social media platforms and sites that cause a lot of useful time to be wasted. Surveys at many work places show that nearly 40% of workers spend time visiting online stores, shopping, playing games and chatting with friends from their desks.