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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

IMPACT OF SOCIAL NETWORKING ON YOUTH


IMPACT OF SOCIAL NETWORKING ON YOUTH




Social-networking sites have taken the world by a storm leading to nothing less than a revolution. A lot of concerns have been voiced about social networking sites taking over in our lives. However, one major issue that has been overlooked is the changing mind-set of the youth due to the social networking sites.
The adolescence years shape our outlook, our personality and mould us into what we are. So when we grow up in a world where our popularity is directly proportional to the number of “likes” and the “haaawt” comments we get on our photoshop-enhanced profile picture and live with people constantly competing for the coveted title of the king/queen of the virtual world, it is bound to have a profound impact of the psyche of an entire generation. The focus and time we spend on creating our brand on these social networking sites is a standing testimony to the awakening of the narcissist in us.
At any hangout or get-together more time is spent on clicking snaps and updating the virtual world on what’s going on, rather than enjoying the event. The photos are uploaded within an hour, and then begins the flood of “Likes” and comments. The social networking sites and the culture they have created is thus a breeding ground for a vain, self-obsessed younger generation. We forget that we chose the people we want to interact with on these sites. So the validity of the opinions on these sites need to be reconsidered before we get cozy in a shell of false sense of unwanted self-importance, but this is conveniently forgotten by most of us.
On the other hand the time, energy and clicks you spend on getting that perfect picture – all goes away to the drain when your friend’s picture gets more attention. On one hand when vanity is on rise, some tend to lose their self-esteem owing to the lack of online popularity. Since when have we become so petty that our virtual world takes over our real life? Are we that silly to let these things affect us?
Another aspect is the loss of private space. For today’s generation, things that were considered personal a generation before, are all public. Status updates, wall post and tweets yell about every move we make, every step we take and every relation we make or break. We are ourselves violating the sanctity of our personal space in an attempt to keep up with the current fad of publicizing intimate details of our lives for a few minutes of attention among a few hundred people in the virtual world. How healthy a trend is this – is something to ponder over.
The relative freedom afforded by social networking services has caused concern regarding the potential of its misuse by individual patrons. In October 2006, a fake Myspace profile created in the name of Josh Evans by Lori Janine Drew led to the suicide of Megan Meier. The event incited global concern regarding the use of social networking services for bullying purposes.
In July 2008, a Briton, Grant Raphael, was ordered to pay a total of GBP £22,000 (about USD $44,000) for libel and breach of privacy. Raphael had posted a fake page on Face book purporting to be that of a former school friend Matthew Firsht, with whom Raphael had fallen out in 2000. The page falsely claimed that Firsht was homosexual and that he was dishonest.
At the same time, genuine use of social networking services has been treated with suspicion on the ground of the services' misuse. In September 2008, the profile of Australian Face book user Elmo Keep was banned by the site's administrators on the grounds that it violated the site's terms of use. Keep is one of several users of Facebook who were banned from the site on the presumption that their names aren't real, as they bear resemblance to the names of characters like Sesame Street's Elmo.
A common misuse of social networking sites such as Facebook is that it is occasionally used to emotionally abuse individuals. Such actions are often referred to as trolling. It is not rare for confrontations in the real world to be translated online.  Trolling can occur in many different forms, such as (but not limited to) defacement of deceased person(s) tribute pages, name calling, playing online pranks on volatile individuals and controversial comments with the intention to cause anger and cause arguments. Trolling is not to be confused with cyber-bullying.
Online bullying, also called cyber-bullying, is a relatively common occurrence and it can often result in emotional trauma for the victim. Depending on the networking outlet, up to 39% of users admit to being “cyber-bullied”.  The teenager expresses frustration towards networking sites like MySpace because it causes drama and too much emotional stress. There are not many limitations as to what individuals can post when online. Individuals are given the power to post offensive remarks or pictures that could potentially cause a great amount of emotional pain for another individual.
As social networking sites have risen in popularity over the past years, people have been spending an excessive amount of time on the Internet in general and social networking sites in specific. This has led researchers to debate the establishment of Internet addiction as an actual clinical disorder.Social networking can also affect the extent to which a person feels lonely. In a Newsweek article, Johannah Cornblatt explains “Social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace may provide people with a false sense of connection that ultimately increases loneliness in people who feel alone.” John T. Cacioppo, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, claims that social networking can foster feelings of sensitivity to disconnection, which can lead to loneliness.
This is not a dreary, condescending, ‘wake up call’ by some old fashioned, boring person of the last generation; this is just an account of a teen watching the world around me possessed by the spirit of social networking. This is just my take on the renaissance these sites have brought in the culture and outlook of my generation.
Years later, looking back at our teen years, do we want to remember spending time bothering about an elusive world where we are judged on how we ‘portray’ ourselves to be? Do we want see ourselves as a vain, self-absorbed people fussing about the pettiest of things, totally nonchalant to the bigger and more important issues of the world? Do we want to be uninformed teens, ignorant about the world and doing nothing constructive? The social networking sites and social media has revolutionized the world, bringing us closer than ever before, making life easier than it ever was. We can exploit this and use it for a better life, a better tomorrow. It should be used to connect, stay in touch easily, share views and not waste time on.
There was the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age- all turning points in the history of human civilization. How should the virtual age etch itself in the history of mankind depends on us- the choice is ours now!

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