Pros and cons of social networking

Posted on: 12/02/2010

Google launched Google Buzz this week. They obviously know a good title when they see one, but will it be a success? Three Buzz writers, Michael Goode, Nathan Kiley and Kirstie Dyke examine the pros and cons of social networking on Facebook among others.

Michael Goode writes: Social networking is a great way to stay in touch with all those who matter to you. It is easy, fast and cheap. Social networking not only allows you to find out what’s going on or start events whenever you want but also allows you to find new friends. To take this to its extreme, social networking can cement or build relationships. For instance, one of my friends first got to know his girlfriend properly through Facebook (before they got together obviously). However, there are many problems with social networking. Above all it is really, really time-consuming. I had to give up Bebo and MSN because they just took so much of my life away from important things. This to me seems to be the biggest problem, Facebook can, and in many cases has, become addictive and to me at least it doesn’t seem worth it. Facebook also, it has been argued, devalues the friends you have. Let’s say you have about 400 friends on Facebook, how many of these people do you actually know? How many would you properly call a friend? I’ve added people I’ve never even held a proper conversation with on my site, just about recognising someone’s face passes the Facebook test. This in a sense means that you have less time with the friends you do care about, because networking takes time. There are also security concerns, people say social networking is not safe, but this depends on how adventurous you are and the sites you use. Using networking does however, help people find old friends they have lost touch with, which has to be one big plus. I have found friends who I had missed hugely on the net, which is a life-saver. It depends on how much time you have and how self-disciplined you are whether social networking sites like Facebook improve your life, but the recent popularity means that it is hard to be in the know and up to date without them.

Nathan Kiley writes: There are a number of reasons why Facebook can have advantages. The main reason is socialising. Be it with friends or family, if they have Facebook you can keep in touch for free. This is beneficial if family members, for example, live abroad and the cost of keeping in touch is high. If you also move locations you can stay in touch with your old friends. However, recently Facebook has been seen to be more than just a social networking site. You are able to upload videos of yourself, post links to websites if something important has happened you are interested in and there are links for you to buy tickets to an artist you like if you add them to your ‘Artists I Like’ section in music. There are several good causes set up by people on Facebook with good intentions, an example being the ‘I will donate 1p to Africa for every person who joins’ groups. But the downside is that it can become easy to get ‘addicted’ to Facebook. If you know work has to be done, it suddenly gets a whole lot easier to spend time joining pointless groups, becoming a fan of a completely bizarre item and taking meaningless applications to decipher ‘which football superstar you are’, knowing it isn’t correct and that you have wasted another few minutes of your life to tell mates ‘the computer says I’m Kaka or Ronaldo’.

Kirstie Dyke writes: No longer do we have to pretend that we don’t really want to know what our ex-boyfriend got up to last weekend, Facebook now practically demands that we know. It’s inescapable, as soon as someone’s name flashes up on Facebook’s live feed, the temptation to click on their photos, follow their conversations and to become a ‘fan’ has taken hold. Facebook is the ultimate release for the nosy parker. Or for the stalker (“I’ve already rejected your friend request five times, get the hint!”) The addicts are clearly marked by ‘statuses’ venting frustration when they can’t view any ‘older posts’ when the website inevitably decides to crash at least once a day. Maybe it can’t cope with the 350 million mundane statuses a day about how someone is “about to make a cup of tea”. However, Facebook has a certain appeal that keeps it 350 million users coming back, day after day, sometimes even hour after hour. Facebook mobile has even made it possible for a user to be connected to Facebook 24 hours a day.

What do you think about such sites? Add your comments below.


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