Recently I came across an anecdote which goes like this: When the house maid reported for her duty at home after being absent for 4 days in a row, the house lady went furious on the maid. She demanded an explanation as to how could she disappear from her duty without any information. What the maid replied was interesting “Madam I had updated my status on face book and I expected you to have read it!” Internet age has arrived in India! Sounds incredibly true – isn’t it!
My friend who works with a media company recently changed his job. He got an excellent opportunity to work with one of the best companies in media segment in Mumbai. He got this break through twitter. He spread a tweet stating “Looking for a media job in Mumbai, commitment to deliver results” His tweet got re-tweeted by many and ultimately it reached the eyes of one HR manager. Less than 140 characters on twitter made him get a job worth more than 14 lac rupees!
From media to maid, networking on internet has impacted each one of us. LinkedIn, Buzz, Orkut and much more – this is the age of social network. One in every 3 professional in India is on either one or the other social network and this trend is catching up like a wild fire. Professionally these platforms are helpful for an individual to develop a wide reach. On the individual’s personal front these networks are being used to identify lost friends and to share recent status update. Some people use these networks for productive purposes like : to identify a suitable place to stay in a new city, to reach to the prospective blood donor when in urgency, to connect with an overseas consultant etc.
While there are various positive uses of these professional sites, I have experienced that there is a huge dark side to these networks. One of the biggest challenges in the new age socially networked generation is that they are connected but have no personal connect. A hand shake and a smile is very effective in enriching any relation but this is found missing in relationships of today’s generation. It is always easy to speak when no one is watching you. The internet network has encouraged people to speak out but only when they are behind the screen. This reduces the individuals confidence to speak out in public.
I have also observed that there is a mad rush to expand one’s social network on internet. Most of the users want to be connected to as many “contacts” as possible. There is very less or no discretion in making friends. These social networks defy Dale Carnegie’s theorems on how to win friends and develop relations. Anybody can invite, connect or follow almost anybody today. Especially when this tool gets into the access of naïve children it becomes all the more destructive. I see children less on sports grounds and more on computer screens now a days. If this trend continues, in the future generation it will be very tough for us to identify Tendulkar’s and Nadal’s and Beckham’s to represent the world of sports.
I recall my school days when my parent’s used to inspire me to develop a good social network. We had a “friends club” in the vicinity of our residential colony. Children from neighborhood were members of this club. Entry to this club was restricted, our parents would keep a close watch on the quality of club members and also encourage us to organize events and activities which would include participation from people of various age groups. Festival season of holi, deepawali, durga puja, summer vacations, Christmas holidays etc were days of jam packed social activities. This actually is the essence of social networking for me.
According to GoodMobilePhones survey the average user doesn’t know 20% of his Facebook friends. The remaining three-fifths are acquaintances, folks we don’t really talk to. We are in general touch with at best one in five of our contact list in the network. I am myself present on a few social network sites and I try to use the networks in the most optimum and fruitful manner.
After reading the above survey I studied my social network statistics and realized that more than 70% of the friends on my network are connected just for the sake of being recognized as a network friend, either of us is just adding up the numbers to the friend list! In fact I observed that there is absolute no communication with more than 60% of people connected on my network, at best if there is any interaction, it is restricted to one click “like”. The sincerity and genuineness of being acknowledged with a “like” on facebook or linkedin is always a question mark for me.
To check the strength of my social friendship on these networks, once I decided to be on a fast – social network fast. This meant no post on facebook, twitter or linkedin for a period of seven days. It was like a twitter holiday for me. I observed my fast with complete honesty only to find that on eighth day life on the network was as usual. No one realized that I was absent for a few days, no one missed me, no one wanted to know any more about me! Unlike my school days social network when if I was absent even for a day there used to be so many knocks on my door, just to enquire the reason behind my absence!. When I made some new status updates / posts on the networks, the likes, the re-tweets and the comments started coming in as usual.
Lessons for Excellence :
1. Social Network should be used with a definite purpose, not just to add friends and kill productive time.
2. Learn to use your discretion to make friends on social networks, It is not just to add friends, we should also know to “UNFRIEND” unknown connections.
3. If children have to be exposed to social network it should be a controlled, monitored and restricted use.
2. Proper virus protection should be used while operating on such internet sites.
1. Network sites may be the new age buzz but we should not miss on spending time with friends & relatives & being physically present with them.