Thursday, April 4, 2013

Networking Quotient

"Social networking is about building people up in your network NOT tearing them down" (Tasha Turner)

Hi Everyone,

Few years back when I was doing my graduation course Orkut was in fashion. Our internet lab remained open for the hostel people for few hours in the night and people used to spend most of their time on Orkut. Everyone was crazy about Orkut. People used to talk about it all the time. To be very frank I was not at all interested, for reasons unknown to me. One thing that stood out about all the conversations that happened around Orkut was people used to compare how many friends were there in their friend list. Pretty stupid in my opinion. So today while I was thinking of what to write it struck me that we need to invent a new terminology for all the networking fans - Networking Quotient (do note the sarcasm).

In many European countries it is a law that children below the age of 13 cannot have a networking account on sites like MySpace, Facebook, Google+ etc. From age 13-16 (varies with nations) the account is only for minimal use and under constant parental guidance. And there are pretty solid reasons for that too. Many crimes are happening because of how connected social networking has made the world. A huge percentage of these crimes involve underaged children. Even after restrictions in those countries the children still suffer because of these crimes, reason being they create their accounts without their guardian's knowledge.

Coming back to India, as far as I know there is no age limit on creating accounts on any social networking sites. I have seen kids in 6th standard glued to their mobiles and PCs engaged in social networking. Personally I feel the term social networking should be changed to digital networking because I really don't see the social aspect of it. People might argue with me that there is a social element as you get to meet new people, get in contact with new people. But do you really? You get a chat message from you old lost friend, you see the uploaded pics etc. But if you do not carry this towards talking to him/ her on phone, meeting them once in a while the purpose of social networking is lost and defeated. What I am trying to say that social networks are not your world they are just a means to an end - the end being getting actually social not just digitally social.

There is such a dark side to this social network which people just ignore and refuse to see. Today many criminals pose as goody goody people on social networks and try to lure teen girls and boys on the network. Forget about Facebook, I have seen live case in my own college happening through Orkut where an online guy lured the girl so much that she ran away from the college and got in trouble. Thankfully she was recovered safely and joined college again. With Facebook the number of crimes have increased rapidly. I can confidently say that half of the people who post on networking sites do not have the maturity and sense to decide whether the content they are about to post is worth posting, whether it will cause then any harm or not. I know people who post just for the sake of seeing how many likes they will get.  Many girls post their photographs on the networking sites and there are vultures waiting out there for them to do so and get close to them by posing a good guy or girl. These are just few examples.

Another dark aspect of social networking - loss of privacy. First people post their private information like details, pics etc and then when someone abuses that information they cry wolf. People just don't know where to draw the line. Another problem - people have become digital zombies today. It really looks so funny when you see a person who is glued to his laptop with a Facebook account open and continuously refreshing the screen to see if something new has been posted. As soon as something new is posted they like and comment. I tested this a couple of years back by closing my eyes and pressing random buttons on the keyboard and whatever got typed I posted as my status. You will not believe within 30 seconds I got 3 likes on that stupid status. The entire social world of people has shrunk into laptop, mobile and PC screens.

If I ask everyone what is their IQ, 90% people will not know what is their IQ but if I ask how many friends they have in their social network, 90% people will definitely give right answer to that. I am writing this article after going through and understanding the evil addiction these social networking sites could be. There is a game on Facebook called Criminal Case. I started playing it and trust me I will never get back that one month of my life ever again. It was supreme addiction. Finally I gathered my courage and stopped playing completely. For some days I felt so void, not being able to understand what to do with all the free time I had all of a sudden. Such is the deplorable state of this generation. It's really sad and the situation is not improving. The lack of checks and balances at the family level and government level are worsening the situation even further.

Networking in any way is good but addiction to networking is bad especially if it is done through the virtual world of internet. You don't understand it now but today people are becoming socially handicapped not knowing how to communicate and mingle in real life because they have essentially married their social networks. Anything used wisely is good and this is true with social networking also. Today I use social networks mainly for promoting my articles and blogs but that consumes only a small portion of my time. People waste their time doing almost nothing on networking when there so many conferences, education programs, development programs that can do via social networks.

Time wasted in the virtual world is time lost in real world. That time will not come back. Sadly enough this is becoming a very serious problem, serious enough to devote entire branch of study to it. Increase you Intelligence Quotient, Emotional Quotient, and Social Quotient through the Networking Quotient. NQ alone will not get you to your goals.

Be the real SOLUTION for this virtual PROBLEM.

Genie Signing off