Facebook is “Second Life” For Most Of Us – Why???

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This is a Guest Post By Farooq Ahmed from Daily Tech Digest

facebookFacebook have been the most influential and provoking social networking website ever used since the inception of the Internet with a userbase reaching to a whopping 175 million active users (as stated on facebook stats page) since its inception.Facebook was created by Mark Zuckerberg when he was a student at Harvard. There have been a drastic surge in the type of users using the social network with most of them being outside of college and 30 year olds. The largest user base comes from European countries which include UK alone contributing to around 8 million users, second highest after US followed by Turkey, Australia, France, Sweden, Norway, Colombia and South Africa.

So after going through all stats above, the foremost thing that pops in my mind is why are soo many people opting an online social life over their personal lives? Why are people judging one’s personality solely on the basis of the profile which is there on facebook even after meeting them personally? How come the companies are keeping tabs on their employees based on their profile on facebook and then hiring or firing based on their walls and comments on their profiles? I have tried to analyze all these and many other questions and the conclusions i came to are showcased in this article.

The idea behind creating facebook was to be stay connected with your friends within a college  or a specific group and then it expanded to the general public who started using it to interact with other people who were geographically spread across various countries and workplaces. As time passed more and more people felt that the online presence would help them in finding their long lost friends and relatives as there was a numerous users uploading their profiles across the globe with the penetration of internet growing at a rapid pace in the developing economies as well. It spread at such a rapid pace that almost 40% internet users had their profile on facebook and started looking very wierd when someone did not have their profile. It happened to me when i was into my university that one of my friends asked me that whether i had a profile on facebook and my answer was NO!!!. The reaction what i got after that was like as if i did not have my identity at all, he told me that almost the whole planet is on Facebook, how come you are not on it? He kept me asking every now and then and at the end i had to open a account on it. People started using it to keep an eye over their mates, colleagues and friends and at the same instance competing with their friends list which averages around around 120 per user. Its a natural human tendency to compete with another person and the same lead to many people adding many unknown friends on their list just to show off.

It also helped people who were afraid or shy to speak up openly (in a postive and negative way) in this competitive society. Soon many user profiles emerged which had two faces to it – one for the outside world and one in the virtual world (ie. facebook) to be shown to the real world audience -thus helping them overcome the fears of facing people superior to them. The same happened in the case of adolescents wherein they tend to search for a different personality outside of their classrooms as described by Wenger (1998) that

“One problem of the traditional classroom format is that it is both too disconnected from the world and too uniform to support meaningful forms of identification. It offers unusually little texture to negotiate identities: a teacher sticking out and a flat group of students all learning the same thing at the same time. Competence thus stripped of its social complexity, means pleasing the teacher, raising your hand first, getting good grades. There is little material with which to fashion identities that are locally differentiated and broadly connected. It is no surprise, then, that the playground tends to become the centerpiece of school life…, that the classroom itself becomes a dual world where instruction must compete with message passing, and that some students either seek their identity in subversive behavior or simply refuse to participate” (Wenger, 1998, 269).

Just for the sake of argument one can say that the parents can be responsible for such behavior in adolescents as they are not so free with their offspring’s to speak about the responsibilities and their thoughts which is leading the adolescents to search for an alternate route for their new identities. I don’t think its the parents always but maybe somtimes.

The status updates on the website is very helpful because it informs the user as to what their mates are upto over a weekday or a weekend which then helps in arranging plans over a weekend but sometimes it also acts as a spy to keep tabs on your daily routine activities.

People have become so addicted to it that they are posting each and every details of themselves which is very hard to remove once online, ( as the search engines nowadays do most of it by indexing the information on the Internet) which many of us don’t even realize until something weird happens like the one’s discussed below.

Some positive effects of using Facebook:

It helped Lynne Ackers 54, Merseyside, UK  to reunite with her daughter after 10 years.

PAUL HUGHES, 60, BANGKOK, THAILAND found his brother after 28 years.

CARL WITHERS, HIROSHMA, JAPAN found a job through Facebook.

We saw some of the most lavish parties happening through Facebook in London over the new year and christmas.

Now some of  the negative effects of using Facebook:

Girl sacked over the comments about her job in Facebook.

Virgin 13 Cabin Crew members sacked over the commnets posted on Facebook.

TESCO and Waitrose fires employees after finding about the negative posts about the customers on Facebook.

And many more good and ugly faces of social networking if you Google it.

There is a guide to help you in keeping your profile within the optimal boundaries so that it prevents unauthorized access on your Facebook profiles called “10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know”.

What do I conclude?

I would suggest the  active facebook users to keep their personal life out of the virtual life so that it does not interfere with their personal and professional life. The reason being that the information being accessible so easily  only through some Googling could lead to anything, from as bad as getting sacked from your job to broken marriages to as good as  finding lost friends and relatives or finding the love of your life. All in all i would recommend you not to get involved too much and get addicted to online social networking and instead focus on what you are in your real life.

The thoughts and opinions expressed in this article as based on my experience and does not reflect any authority.

Feel free to leave your comments on this article.

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