Are you a social network addict? Do you spend countless hours updating your Facebook status or tweeting about the most mundane of things or branching out professionally on LinkedIn. Do you check out the latest kids on the block like Digg, StumbleUpon or Pinterest –which are currently the toast of the town. If your answer is in the affirmative, then you have rightly tapped into the pulse of online social networking, something which is fast becoming the predominant aspect of our online presence.
Ever since the advent of Facebook and its subsequent raging popularity, the phenomenon of social networking has caught on like wild fire. Consequently social networking sites of different ilk have mushroomed over the past few years. Customer is spoilt for choice –something which can be both beneficial as well as dangerous. Most customers have little or no understanding about the terms and conditions that these sites impose. In fact many of us are opening accounts in little known websites just for the heck of it.
Like all other things social networking also has definite pros and cons. Before we delve deep into its harmful aspects, let us address the obvious and manifold benefits of social networking.
The compulsive urge to share and connect is deeply ingrained in our psyche. Social networking sites provide the ideal platform that provides succor to this need. Social networking platforms allow you to connect and bond with your friends as well as strangers on a totally different level. Not only you remain abreast about your current friends’ activities, you can use a social networking site like Facebook or MySpace to dig up and reconnect with old acquaintances and friends.
Sites like LinkedIn are a major boon to all professionals, who are looking to explore newer options. You may not be aware but scores of people all over the world are getting selected by companies solely based on their LinkedIn profile
Social networking sites are rapidly evolving into a convergence of all forms of media. With constant waning in relevance of traditional media, if you are a talented musician or an artist, you can take your work directly to your audience through this medium. You no longer are constrained by money or any physical boundary The Blair Witch Project which started simply as a viral on YouTube, or the very recent immensely popular song “Why This Kolaveri Di?” are perfect examples of this medium being harnessed to launch effective viral ad campaigns.
Some social networking sites also serve as application platforms where you can find dozens of applications on quizzes, games and many more. On Facebook you can even challenge your friend to a game of trivia – even if he or she is miles away.
The network can also be used as a rallying point to muster public support for a particular cause. The Jasmine Revolution in the Middle East, or the very recent “Occupy Wall Street” movement could garner substantial public support because of the power and the reach of this medium.
Despite changing the paradigm in the internet landscape, social networking sites do have several pitfalls.
One of the biggest accusations leveled against social networking sites is that its ubiquitousness makes identity theft much easier. The personal information like birthday or your email or sensitive financial information that you share with various social networking sites can be easily misused by spammers to send you spams or malicious software or to steal your identity. Internet fraudsters troll these networking sites looking for every opportunity to swindle innocents.
These sites also act as breeding grounds for stalkers and sexual predators. So parental guidance is advisable if your adolescent son or daughter is a frequent user.
Moreover, there are genuine privacy issues and unwanted exposure concerns that a large number of sites are currently grappling with. Although many sites under immense public pressure have instituted several security measures, doubts still linger about their efficacy.
However despite its above mentioned drawbacks, social networking is a wonderful phenomenon that has completely revolutionized the way we use the web. Its pros heavily outweighs the cons, so if you are careful before signing up and inculcate few healthy habits, you yourself can minimize the drawbacks and fully embrace the enriching experience of social networking.