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The Perils of Social Networking

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Social Networking SitesSocial networking sites are presently making news because of the profiles that young and ruthless terrorists had opened for themselves on forums like Orkut. While the media makes much of pages labeled Hizbul Mujahideen and tries to do an in depth analysis of the data entered by slain terrorist Atif Ameen on his Orkut page, it is worth checking out what a few youthful people feel about social networking sites as a whole.

“There’s just no substitute for SN sites,” says Manoj, a young marketing executive who has done everything from bartending to being a DJ for select parties. “In my free time, I have to hit my page and find out what my friends have said, whether anyone new has found me, and try some new game applications. I think SN sites are valuable because you can connect with friends and classmates from so long ago – people who have moved away and gone to another part of the world.” Manoj is so enamoured of social networking that he has a profile on no less than 3 well-known sites. 

These feelings do find an echo in others too, but Smita finds the excitement about SN sites to be overdone. This young physiotherapist has her profile on a single site, and is considering withdrawing even that, because of unwelcome messages. “I posted my profile to communicate with a friend who has gone to study in Australia. But I find all kinds of guys sending me invitations and unwelcome messages. I think such sites are not worth the bother if you are a busy professional. They are more for people who are out to have fun, rather than anyone with serious intentions.”

For Varsha, who is just out of college and much younger, SN sites are a mixed blessing. “I love checking out my messages, and adding or viewing photos. But sometimes, I feel as if SN sites are a new way to make people boast about themselves. I mean, if I didn’t know what some old classmate was doing I would be quite happy. But suddenly finding them on Facebook, and seeing that they are in Harvard, or Stanford or blah is quite bugging. SN sites, just like any other forum becomes a place where some bloom and others wither.”

Listening to these young voices brings out the particular dilemma that is inherent in every form of our communication and interaction with others. While we do love to connect with others, it is important to retain a sense of our own individuality and uniqueness. Social networking will seem attractive only if it allows us to achieve this balance.

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