Muse n' Motivation

The Thinking Blog!

Is Social Networking making us socially disabled in the real world?

This year had me receiving some extra birthday wishes. Usually, people who know me personally wish me by mail or by phone. But this time, unusually, I had a shower of good wishes. So, how did people suddenly realize that I had grown a year older?  Yes, you got it right – Social networking. All these extra wishes were from people  I had traced over the past few months on the internet or, who had traced me and we were connected via some of the innumerable social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, etc. Some were mere acquaintances. We did not interact everyday. All the same, we were connected on the net and said ‘hello’ every now and then. Was this list of net friends greater than the number of friends in the real social world of mine? I am sure that some of us would say ‘yes’ to that. Is this kind of hap hazard social networking deteriorating our real social lives? Is social networking becoming an addiction, something we would rather do than make friends in the real world? Is this technology advancement doing good to our social lives or making it worse?

Cyber relationships replacing social interaction?

Social networking is a boon to mankind. With the flick of a mouse we can connect with long lost friends and relatives, renew an old relationship or forge a new one! With just a click we can connect with strangers across the globe with similar interests and share thoughts and emotions with like-minded people we never even knew existed. With just a little tip tap on the keyboard, we can conduct official meetings and clinch deals without having to move from our seats. Without straying from our seats, by using the internet we can just chill out with old or new friends, promote our blogs or professional interests and also learn and teach without even having to spend anything except time and surfing cost which is very economical by today’s standards. In one line, social networking has become our social life to be indulged in at our own convenient space and time.

If social networking wasn’t there, many of us would be oblivious of each other’s existence and maybe lose out on many a beautiful friendship. But, is social networking without its flaws? Today, many houses boast of being members of a number of social networking sites with friends that would put any VIP to shame in the social market. Today, when families discuss about issues, invariably, someone from the virtual world finds a way into their lives. Some even wonder what this new element is doing in their lives when they did not even exist when the family started out together. While it could be way to relax, for many it becomes an obstacle in real life social interaction. Life becomes filled with smilies that substitute normal conversations. Many people never realize when social networking has slowly made its way into their lives leaving them with little or no time for their real families. They are worried about their network friends while their own family suffers like the case where a couple was so busy networking that their premature baby died due to malnutrition. That could be an extreme case but may of us especially the younger generation comes close to that when they shut off the real world to step into the world of the internet where reality isn’t as threatening as in real life. Without seeing people they make friends, some get into relationships, some even commit fraud just for the heck of it. This, in spite of the fact that the dangers of hacking accounts, misusing photos and personal information, stalking are more dangerous and easy with social networking than in real life.

I traced many of my old friends through some of these social networking sites, I am happy to stay connected. I will not deny it. Today, I have made some lovely friendships via social networking but I do wonder sometimes, can social networking ever replace real life interaction? And if it ever does some day, would we have all become internet zombies?

What do you say?

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23 Comments

  1. prerna

    Hey Shail, this article reminds me of a play which I had seen a few years back and it scared me to the extent that I rushed out in the middle of it. It was about people engaging in a deadly computer game and losing lives and families over a perod of time…at that point i felt it was an over exaggeration…but now it seems it wasn’t so far fetched either. Infact one of the latest idea ad says if you have more friends online than in real life,u r an addict…but i guess it would hold true for most of us who are on social networking sites…all said and done i still do not see any replacement for real life social networking…atleast for me its impossible to talk to people online if I don’t have a face or a context… but i won’t be surprised if people start shying away from real life interactions, as virtual space gives the comfort of anonymity…

  2. Pintu

    Hello Shail,

    This is Custard! Nice article, this is what goes on in most of our minds today – “Is Social Networking doing good or bad?”
    I feel it depends on the individual person.It is definitely stealing much of the time of youngsters today. I did find few very good understanding people on net; i.e. – I’m a dog lover and only have very few dog-loving friends in the real world. But now, I get good help from people around the world in taking care of my dogs(tips,ideas,etc.)! 🙂
    Teenagers definitely will not realise that their time is getting wasted and there are chances of misusing their personal information. For that, parents should set as an example(like in all other cases!). They should discuss what they do in the net, so that children will also be motivated to tell everything to parents….

  3. One thing about Blogging and the social networking that has changed me for the better, is the fact that now I speak my mind openly without fear. Writing about what matters to me and to the world in general, is now very important to me. It may be just a drop in the ocean or the WWW but at least a handful read it and that makes me feel that I am an instrument of change.
    Great post…:)

  4. anonymous

    True… but again it all depends on the individual. If we are gonna get addicted to the net and have every tom dick n harry in our FB and other social networking sites then its our choice..end of the day we all have control over who connects with us. Its we who allow them in our space, so can’t really complain after that if they use or misuse info about us. Sadly most of the online networking sites hav become a number game every one wants to show how popular they are and how many friends they have..yes its a number game and many are getting addicted to it.

  5. prerna :
    Hey Shail, this article reminds me of a play which I had seen a few years back and it scared me to the extent that I rushed out in the middle of it. It was about people engaging in a deadly computer game and losing lives and families over a perod of time…at that point i felt it was an over exaggeration…but now it seems it wasn’t so far fetched either. Infact one of the latest idea ad says if you have more friends online than in real life,u r an addict…but i guess it would hold true for most of us who are on social networking sites…all said and done i still do not see any replacement for real life social networking…atleast for me its impossible to talk to people online if I don’t have a face or a context… but i won’t be surprised if people start shying away from real life interactions, as virtual space gives the comfort of anonymity…
    </blockquo
    Hi Prerna,

    Yes, having the person before you and sharing mundane or serious thoughts is really something that cannot be replaced ever. But it is also a fact, that many amongst us have made some good friends via the social networking system. But sadly, yes, it is becoming more of a numbers thing and many amongst us are addicts already. Sad but true.

  6. Pintu :
    Hello Shail,
    This is Custard! Nice article, this is what goes on in most of our minds today – “Is Social Networking doing good or bad?”
    I feel it depends on the individual person.It is definitely stealing much of the time of youngsters today. I did find few very good understanding people on net; i.e. – I’m a dog lover and only have very few dog-loving friends in the real world. But now, I get good help from people around the world in taking care of my dogs(tips,ideas,etc.)!
    Teenagers definitely will not realise that their time is getting wasted and there are chances of misusing their personal information. For that, parents should set as an example(like in all other cases!). They should discuss what they do in the net, so that children will also be motivated to tell everything to parents….

    Hi Custard,

    Pintu is one name I will not forget easily. It is really a cute name just like delicious Custard!

    Yes, social networking is eating away into much of the people’s time, not just youngsters but also homemakers and the elderly alike. Sometimes, you tend to wonder, is it worth it at all? But then, like you mentioned about sharing pet dog tips, social networking has its own advantages. You learn and also get to share a lot of things which you may not do in real life.
    But then, there is always the danger of getting addicted and this is indeed scary.

  7. Nalini Hebbar :

    One thing about Blogging and the social networking that has changed me for the better, is the fact that now I speak my mind openly without fear. Writing about what matters to me and to the world in general, is now very important to me. It may be just a drop in the ocean or the WWW but at least a handful read it and that makes me feel that I am an instrument of change.
    Great post…:)

    Hi Nalini,

    Nice of you to drop by and express your views. I agree with you entirely. It indeed feels great to be able to write without fear and also know that there are people reading you out there, willing to reflect on what you write. As long as it stays within the borders of daily functioning and doesn’t cross over to addiction, it is an instrument of freedom and change. Otherwise….

  8. anonymous :

    True… but again it all depends on the individual. If we are gonna get addicted to the net and have every tom dick n harry in our FB and other social networking sites then its our choice..end of the day we all have control over who connects with us. Its we who allow them in our space, so can’t really complain after that if they use or misuse info about us. Sadly most of the online networking sites hav become a number game every one wants to show how popular they are and how many friends they have..yes its a number game and many are getting addicted to it.

    Hi!

    Nothing can be further than the truth you have just mentioned. Yes, we give them the space, and we should know when we are going overboard. I agree. We have the control but tend to fritter it away in the illusion that we are making more number of good friends or trying to stay connected. As if to say that really mattered when one’s personal life could be in a complete mess.
    Thanks for your views.

  9. Indrani Talukdar

    Well, if it weren’t for facebook, I wouldn’t have rediscoverd a lot of old friends. Lets face it, you and I have never met but i already feel that we’ve known each other for years!

  10. Indrani Talukdar :
    Well, if it weren’t for facebook, I wouldn’t have rediscoverd a lot of old friends. Lets face it, you and I have never met but i already feel that we’ve known each other for years!

    I agree Indra. Sometimes, I wonder too. I owe social networking that much at least. I suppose we just mustn’t go overboard which happens in many cases. And yes, I feel the same. Kya malloom – a previous incarnation connection?:)

  11. knot2share

    Dear Shail
    Here I go with my typing attmept #3!!! I was struggling to post my response yesterday and the browser was painfully progressing each time but at the end my post disappeared :-(. Hope this stays.

    One good thing about social network is that I get to choose when and how I need to keep in touch with anybody…ooops! I don’t socialize that much in real life but I have a bunch of good friends I have met online. I feel there is no need for any false pretence with my online friends. I speak my heart and they understand me well. It works both ways. We connect over the net, which in itself is a very amazing phenomenon. I think the next amazing thing after the thought of a child being delivered, is two people clicking/connecting on the net. Once that connection happens we seem to know exactly the tone and mood of the other person. We can even predict what the other person is going to say sometimes, when the other person is miles and miles away. Isn’t that fascinating?? I know I am getting carried away here. Social networking has helped me say things that I never once thought I could say. I have a “virtual” voice now :-). It surely boosts my confidence. It is not a sensible thing to compare social network on the net and in real life. Yes, we do get absorbed in the virtual world of friends and our priorities in real life shift at times. But that is just a matter of re-learning. Also with the current trends where our families are spread all over the world, just a quick update on facebook and everybody gets to know. Easy.

    There are bad sides to social networking too. Some very horrible stories we get to hear on papers and news. Like many have said here, it really depends on how much control each person has.

    OK, now I hit the submit button………..

  12. Dear Shail,
    In a way I do not have a moral ground to comment on this beautiful blog of yours; for the relationship we share was born out of a social networking site, Indusladies. Right from the day I received the first message from you we have been having a healthy relationship of reading and commenting on each others writings. I am emphasizing this example, Shail, only to add one more dimension to the subject. Social net-working sites help forge relationships which are not possible in the real brick and mortar world. I had always longed for healthy relationships from members of opposite sex. Till Internet became a day to day reality that was not possible given the fact that our society frowns a relationship – though it could be purely platonic and absolutely non-sexual – between a man and a woman.
    Again even if we brush aside the society’s objections when a man and a woman, who are perfect strangers meet to discuss issues, especially those as complex as live-in relationships or same-sex marriage, the fact that the other person belongs to the opposite sex distracts us to an extent.
    As you know now I am a member in a womens site having a membership of nearly a hundred thousand and am interacting with hundreds of women every day. Even my wife is happy with these relationships.
    Social Networking has come to stay and will be there because it fulfills a person’s emotional need to relate. Of course it has its downside too. Tell me one thing in life which does not have a downside?
    But I must congratulate you for the choice of the topic, for the smooth ‘buttery’ style in which the subject was presented and for instigating such a lively discussion on a socially relevant topic.
    I am really proud of being your ‘social net-working friend’ Shail. Tell me, how did I miss your birthday? Did it come before we met?
    sridhar

  13. knot2share :
    Dear Shail
    Here I go with my typing attmept #3!!! I was struggling to post my response yesterday and the browser was painfully progressing each time but at the end my post disappeared . Hope this stays.
    One good thing about social network is that I get to choose when and how I need to keep in touch with anybody…ooops! I don’t socialize that much in real life but I have a bunch of good friends I have met online. I feel there is no need for any false pretence with my online friends. I speak my heart and they understand me well. It works both ways. We connect over the net, which in itself is a very amazing phenomenon. I think the next amazing thing after the thought of a child being delivered, is two people clicking/connecting on the net. Once that connection happens we seem to know exactly the tone and mood of the other person. We can even predict what the other person is going to say sometimes, when the other person is miles and miles away. Isn’t that fascinating?? I know I am getting carried away here. Social networking has helped me say things that I never once thought I could say. I have a “virtual” voice now . It surely boosts my confidence. It is not a sensible thing to compare social network on the net and in real life. Yes, we do get absorbed in the virtual world of friends and our priorities in real life shift at times. But that is just a matter of re-learning. Also with the current trends where our families are spread all over the world, just a quick update on facebook and everybody gets to know. Easy.
    There are bad sides to social networking too. Some very horrible stories we get to hear on papers and news. Like many have said here, it really depends on how much control each person has.
    OK, now I hit the submit button………..

    Hi Shree,

    It is very true. That’s why I don’t deny the fact that we make a lot of communication via the net. We forge some great relationships too. I only wonder about the limits that some of us cross when we override real relationships over virtual relationships.

  14. Sneha

    Hi Shail,

    I’ve been on social networks myself and personally, it hasn’t worked for me. I think this depends on individuals and how their choices are.
    For me, I think there are other ways of interacting. I do not think I’m game for such sites. And I’m saying this from experience of being in them.

  15. Bhargavi

    Shail,
    I go with all of the views here, including yours.
    As real social networking is not possible in some places like ours, this cyber networking works.
    To tell the truth, only after I joined IL, I am able to see many of the viewpoints to a single viewpoint. Also came to know how to deal with people of different views.
    So I am for cyber networking in this case.

    Social networking has shrunk considerably due to many reasons..one of which is this cyberspace networking, no doubt about it.

  16. Dear Shail,

    I was also thinking about the same for a few days and even posted on the same .

    But in my case cyber networking has helped me a lot too. It has helped me to open up , to find myself and to boost my confidence . And I have found people who share similar views like me . And my friends and relatives appreciate and accept me more now that they know me more and knows my positive attitude . It has helped to build up a bond among my cousins and aunts who are scattered around the world . I cannot deny that either .

  17. Sneha :

    Hi Shail,

    I’ve been on social networks myself and personally, it hasn’t worked for me. I think this depends on individuals and how their choices are.
    For me, I think there are other ways of interacting. I do not think I’m game for such sites. And I’m saying this from experience of being in them.

    Hi Sneha,

    You are absolutely right. There are different ways of interacting and one way need not be ideal for another. For me it has been a great way to trace my old friends who I thought I had lost to the humdrum of life and living. And now, a close coterie of friends are there, though how close they are or will be will depend entirely upon time and tide!

  18. Bhargavi :

    Shail,
    I go with all of the views here, including yours.
    As real social networking is not possible in some places like ours, this cyber networking works.
    To tell the truth, only after I joined IL, I am able to see many of the viewpoints to a single viewpoint. Also came to know how to deal with people of different views.
    So I am for cyber networking in this case.

    Social networking has shrunk considerably due to many reasons..one of which is this cyberspace networking, no doubt about it.

    Hi Bhargavi,

    Yes, social networking works great for a lot of people where personal interaction is minimal due to a host of reasons. Yes, social sites like IL too provide a variety of perspectives but like in all social interactions we need to know where to draw the line. If we are careful then there will be no chance to be sorry and we can forge some lovely relationships and keep learning…

  19. Great article on social networking site. Its really helpful for those of us who are aspiring of becoming social networking sites’ owners.

    Thanks!

  20. Thanks Martin. It is nice that you enjoyed reading the article on social networking and found it informative enough. Hope to see you around!

    Shail

  21. Katya

    Shail, thank you for your article. It helps me to prepair for the class discussion in English on the topic “The Internet may someday replace real communication”.
    Hello from Russia!)

  22. Katya :
    Shail, thank you for your article. It helps me to prepair for the class discussion in English on the topic “The Internet may someday replace real communication”.
    Hello from Russia!)

    Hi Katya,

    Nice that my article could be of some real literal help for you. Do tell me how your class went. Okay?

    Hope to see more of you here.

  23. Thanks Shail for this interesting post about impact of social media. It is necessary educate youth to ensure that they use social media in a positive manner.

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