Today, in the 21st century, the debate is ongoing about how the proliferation of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter is affecting users’ productive and cognitive capacities. Indeed, scholars agree that the escalating popularity of these sites among Internet users across the world necessitates an introspection of their shorter-term and longer-term effects on people as well as societies. The present paper attempts to illuminate time and purpose considerations in the personal use of social networking sites.
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Most Internet surfers use a considerable proportion of their time on social networking sites charting with strangers, who may be thousands of miles away and may not necessarily share their interests, values, or philosophy in life. At a personal level, anywhere between three and four hours of my productive time is spent either communicating with people through social networking sites or texting through my mobile device. The habit is addictive and hence extremely difficult to stop.
At the surface, users of social networking sites buy into the idea that these platforms have an immense potential to fundamentally alter the character and scope of our social engagements and interactions on all facades – individual, interpersonal as well as societal (Tokunaga 426).
But while common practice always presumes the shifts to be beneficial, time and purpose considerations would ultimately demonstrate that these sites are more harmful than beneficial. At a personal level, it is almost beyond reason to explain why an individual would use three to four hours of their productive time on a daily occasion to just chat with strangers yet they supposedly ‘lack’ adequate time to finish their assignments or attend to other important chores.
Another consideration arises from the fact that social networking sites, in spite of their time-consuming orientation, are often blamed for negatively altering the framework for social interactions that bind society together. Courtesy of social networking sites, “no one wants to get together in real life anymore” (Niedzviecki para. 11).
Such an orientation, in my view, beats logic because people are spending so much time on social networking sites yet there is so little to show in terms of establishing actual interpersonal relationships that may serve as the glue to hold the social fabric together. Consequently, it can be argued that much of the time spent on social networking sites is wasted.
Today, more than ever before, it is increasingly becoming clear that individuals are developing negative behaviors due to their online engagements. It has been suggested that the style of reading promoted by the Internet may indeed “be weakening our capacity for the kind of deep reading that emerged when an earlier technology, the printing press, made long and complex works of prose commonplace” (Carr para. 8).
Ultimately, as suggested by this particular author, the Internet is weakening the intellectual and cognitive capacities of individuals as they now engage in skimming content rather than deep and comprehensive reading.
This observation can be taken a notch higher to demonstrate how individuals are using social networking sites to establish shaky online relationships that are unable to prove anything else apart from the obvious waste of time and resources. Such individuals are unable to establish deep interpersonal relationships with peers and friends, reflecting the loss of cognitive and socialization capacities.
From the discussion, it is clear that social networking sites are more harmful than beneficial when time and purpose factors are put into consideration. The time lost in interacting with strangers online could be much more beneficial if it is spent on studying, reading books, working, and providing voluntary services to the community.
Carr, Nicholas. “Is Google Making us Stupid?” The Atlantic 1 July 2008. Web. 22 June 2013.
Niedzviecki, Hal. “Facebook in a Crowd.” New York Times 24 Oct. 2008. Web. 22 June 2013.
Tokunaga, Robert S. “Friend Me or You’ll Strain Us: Understanding Negative Events that Occur Over Social Networking Sites.” Cyber Psychology, Behavior & Social Networking. 14.7/8 (2011): 425-432. Academic Search Premier. Web. 22 June 2013.