Monday, September 10, 2007

Social Networking--How weird?!

"Why are you on Orkut!" exclaimed my 19 year old cousin Leena when I told her that I am on orkut too. "How come on orkut" inquired her younger sister Spandana. They were surprised to find me there. I laughed it loud. "I just wanted to taste waters" I told them.

Yes I really wanted to experience this so called social networking. Initially I was a bit annoyed when I found many of my junior colleagues glued to orkut. I felt they are much of the project time and resources. I noticed this even amongst newly recruited who are fresh out of college. “What is there in orkut?” I enquired and “what is it?” “It is a social networking site where you can connect with a number of link minded people, find your lost friends” was the answer. I looked at the person thoughtfully and decided to taste this phenomenon.

I created my profile on orkut and started browsing the site when ever I find time or feel like browsing the site. I could hardly make any friends except adding a few colleagues of mine and my 2 cousins. Yes it is really amazing you have interest to network with people of common interests. You can exchange information on various topics. During our college days it was difficult to obtain information on anything. Firstly we were not sure who should we approach to. Now all you need to do is just post it on one of those sites like orkut or myspace, another networking site, you find the information flowing in your way from allover the world. Amazing! soon I started to like these sites. Though I am not active on these sites I was made certain observations while browsing those sites occasionally.

The popularity of social networking websites has opened up a whole new world of interaction. Poaching is a well known menace in the knowledge industry. Despite taking many actions to prevent poaching at workplace it is happening through some social groups in the sites like orkut and myspace. With the popularity of these sites, darker trends are also emerging. Being a virtual world out there what ever you post that would be visible to everyone. You might loose your privacy if you’re not clever enough. You might end up making friendship with a wrong person. If you post your pictures or share your personal information like email id or phone number that might be misused by others. Anti national and anti social elements started using these sites for their activities avoiding the police or intelligence agencies. So many hate campaigns are launched posting false information and hurting the sentiments of large number of people.

With extensive use of social networking sites in India, the young population chatting for hours, however is unaware of the risks involved. Sharing personal information on social networking sites like Orkut, Tagged, hi5, etc can be hazardous. The delinquents will have no difficulty in using someone's personal information for their vested interest, cyber experts say.

There has been number of cases reported in the country where the people were cheated after sharing their personal information on Internet. Latest among them is one of a youth from Mumbai who was murdered, after pals on the net abducted and then killed him, having won his confidence through the network chatting.

I started to wonder what these college going kids and working singles with some 2-4 years of experience do on these sites are they really use it in a right way. They search for new friends and make new friends and share a lot of personal things with them who they never met before. People started using social networking groups to seek justification for what they were doing and for support.

At times I ask myself are we different online than we are in person? I don't think you're fundamentally different than you are offline. You may be expressing another dimension of your personality or say more than you would in real life, but it's still one aspect of you. One doesn’t know how honest someone is being about themselves. You can't detect any gaping and obvious annoyances that would be easy to see in person. This trend has got some impact on social skills. What is the need to find friends online? I fail to find an answer.

However one thing I must say like a coin there are always two faces to any such innovations. One should be very careful though!

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