Social media fad or facilitator

19 Aug 2014 / 20:13 H.

    ASK any kid how they connect with others and it'll be no surprise they'll say Facebook!
    Facebook, with 1.2 billion users, is the leading social media networking platform. It cannot be shrugged off as mass hysteria. It has made such an impact that many would much rather communicate with each other on FB than through emails or at times even meeting in person.
    Besides the instant texting component, one can link with long-lost people, make friends, form groups for a common purpose, convey ideas and information, stay abreast of current affairs, video-chat, post pictures and videos, play games, quiz each other, follow every move, decision, feeling and random thought of everyone connected, maintain a homepage/"wall" for all to visit and even advertise and promote what one has to offer.
    And, while this may be stating the obvious, the biggest plus for FB is that it offers all these features for free (apart from the apps on sale at the FB Marketplace).
    FB's unparalleled success as an easy and extremely user-friendly site, its versatility and the tremendous benefits it affords users cannot be denied, whether one uses it sparingly or regularly.
    What's of concern, though, is when users are stuck in their FB page to see how many "friends" they have, or "likes," or constantly communicating. Being hooked on social media is like an addiction. When deprived for any reason, such as an FB outage as we have had on occasion, one can easily fall into depression.
    At the same time, privacy is a constant risk for users. We need to take care with whom we share our social feeds.
    We can be bombarded with updates, some even malicious, about acquaintances, individuals in public life, or on matters that can be sensitive or seditious. Our connectedness can draw us unwittingly into such an exchange that could well land us into trouble with others and possibly the law.
    We need to be aware that the freedom of expression on social media is at times misused, many a time abused, by unscrupulous people who relish using it to promote their sinister agenda.
    Identity theft is another concern, with fake and bogus accounts and people looking to steal our personal information. And, even with all the security settings, our images can still be misused.
    Then, there are the "conmen", stalkers and sexual predators who use social media to prey especially on the young, naïve and unsuspecting individuals.
    Despite some of these still lingering concerns, if one chooses to stay socially connected online but exercises moderation and caution, one will find sites such as Facebook the truly fantastic interpersonal and friendly tool that it is.
    More so, we should remember that it is we who should make the informed choices that govern our lives and not allow our interests to overwhelm us.
    Rueben Dudley
    Petaling Jaya

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