What’s On Your Mind?

– Leon Pereira

“All social media work us over completely.”

Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Orkut, comes to our mind when someone says “social networking.” For many teens of this day and age, visiting these sites are a part of their daily routine. Sure, it’s a good way to keep in contact with your friends and peers, but can it be too much of a good thing? Social networking sites are beneficial if used in certain ways, but can also be detrimental if used in the wrong way.

Human beings by and large are social. There is a deep rooted need among humans to share. Initially social networking happened at family functions where all relative and friends would conglomerate under one roof. Social networking has always been prevalent; it is just that in these times the face of social networking has changed. Today, we live in a world where contacting someone, sharing our journeys as well as our thoughts is just one click away. Most literate youth seem to be in one or the other social networking sites. These have played a crucial role in bridging boundaries and crossing the seas and enabling them to communicate on a common platform.

We fell in love with sites that made us feel like there are people out there who are similar to us having common experiences. But then, some of these networks – Facebook and Twitter in particular – began to grow explosively. Facebook facilitated a cultural norm of using its service to “friend” everyone we knew. All of a sudden we had tons of our friends on these sites. With the experiences gained sharing online spaces with a few friends, logic would dictate that having more of our friends online would make this experience richer. It is fact that social networks and virtual worlds are very useful for marketing, socialization and access to such instant micro “information”. But, a social trend that has grown can be summarized in a term which defines what we are living in this digital age: FOMO (Fear of missing out). In a competitive and so immediate world, people need to know everything faster, buy something or attend to an event before the others, to avoid the fear of exclusion and the anxiety of making ​​wrong choices. In theory it is supposed to expand your network of people that you socialize with, but what actually happens is that people tend to form into groups who all share the same opinion. In most cases people with different beliefs are excluded. The result is that even though you may interact with thousands of people they are all people who share the same opinion. This tends to result in people becoming much less tolerant of differing beliefs from their own. Therein lies the paradox of the social network that no one wants to admit: as the size of the network increases, our ability to be social decreases.

The negative effects of these social networking sites overweigh the positive ones. These sites have caused some potential harm to society and the first victims are the students. This is because of the reason that when they are studying or searching their course material online, they get attracted to these sites to kill the boredom in their study time, diverting their attention from their work. Hence they are distracted from the distraction caused by a distraction. Relying more on the information accessible easily on these social networking sites and the web reduces their learning and research capabilities. The more time the students spend on these social media sites, the less time they will spend socializing in person with others. This reduces their communication skills causing a drawback to socialize more lively with the society. The overuse of these sites on a daily basis has many negative effects on the physical and mental health of students making them lethargic and unmotivated to create contact with the people in person. To put it bluntly, we are losing touch with reality.

The matter is not the digital world and its wonderful ways to make our lives better, You are what you share.  Maybe people should learn how to use better those resources, to ensure they will live fully if, sometimes, they turn off their “toys” to have a face to face chat.

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