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Social Networking is Killer...Literally

MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Bebo; there is a never ending list of social networking sites available to people all over the world. What at first was seen as just a way to keep in touch and communicate is now seen as a health and safety hazard.

According to Lady Greenfield, “social network sites risk infantilizing the mid-21ish century mind,” meaning those who typically spend long hours in front of their computer screen in a virtual world are reducing their brain capacity and the way it functions to the state of an infant, “characterized by short attention spans…the inability to empathize and a shaky sense of identity” (Wintour). Constant screen shifts and window changes on the computer are said to halt brain cell connection, ultimately resulting in short attention spans and even attention deficit disorder, more commonly known as ADD. Even more so, because people all over the world are spending more and more time on social networking sites, they are spending less time reading and studying so the brain is not developing in a useful way; even “the art of intelligent conversation is being lost” (Myslewski). While knowing how to operate technology is big in today’s society, the lessons learned from reading books, sitting in a classroom and interacting with other humans face-to-face are even bigger. In correlation to this, Lady Greenfield “warned there [is] a risk of loss of empathy as children read novels less” because reading does not always generate an instant reward like when you are chatting on Facebook and as soon as you send a message, you receive one in response (Wintour).

Along with mental health issues, social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace can also lead to many diseases including “cancer, dementia, heart disease, diabetes, influenza, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus [and] even the common cold”(Myslewski). The reasoning behind this claim is that isolation from the real world and face-to-face interaction can hinder the production of leukocytes which help fight disease so the immune system is not as strong as it could be. It is also said the loneliness due to the isolation computers bring can be “linked to inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune disorders” (Myslewski). I wonder if networking in groups causes the same issues?

Aside from mental health issues and serious diseases, an overuse of social networking sites can also put you in severe danger. Because we tend to lose ourselves in the virtual world, hooked on the “constant reassurance that you are listened to, recognized, and important,” social networkers often sell themselves out to complete strangers. In the article What Are the Effects of Social Networking Websites? by Jonathan Popoola, a great example of this is given:

“‘Words can't describe me,’ is how Adnan Patrawala, a 16 year old teenager from Mumbai, India had described himself on his Orkut profile. However, his kidnappers and murderers got to know a little more of him and ensnared him into a trap which ultimately led to the death of the young boy” (Popoola).

We all have heard the horror stories associated with MySpace where adults pose as teenagers and pedophiles manipulate underage teens and children into illegal situations. This example of Adnan Patrawala is just like that. He met people on the web who most likely posed as different people, who ultimately took advantage of him when all he wanted was a friend. Obviously, this is an extreme case, however, things like this do happen.

Social networking sites such as Facebook, Bebo, MySpace and Twitter were all designed to help keep people connected. With their increasing popularity though, people all around the world are becoming obsessed, spending hours and even days in isolation. This is damaging to their health, infantilizing their minds and hindering the development of their immune system. Some people are even subject to manipulation and violence through the Web because they become so wrapped up in the constant attention they receive. I am not saying that social networking sites are always bad because when used in moderation or for the right reasons it is a healthy activity. Just make sure you do not overdo it because in the end, “social networking activities can kill you” (Myslewski).

Works Cited
Myslewski, Rik. "UK boffin: Social networking causes cancer, heart attacks, lupus, dementia... Death by Internet." The Register 20 Feb. 2009. 2 Mar. 2009 .
Popoola, Jonathon. "What are the Effects of Social Networking Websites?" Weblog post. Ezine Articles. 2 Mar. 2009 .
Wintour, Patrick. "Facebook and Bebo Risk 'Infantilising' the Human Mind." Guardian.co.uk 24 Feb. 2009. 2 Mar. 2009 .

Comments

It is true that social networking sites like Facebook have been abused to the point where students spend an entire class period chatting with other friends who are logged on. However, the public has been aware of the ADD generation for quite some time. Ever since the popularization of arcade games like Pac man and Pong to the introduction of cable and satellite TV, kids have spent countless hours in front of a screen wasting their lives away.
Many of these issues that are mentioned here can be related to the other article about Facebook. For example, the incident with Adnan Patrawala can be associated with him not having a lot of friends. Many people become desperate to add as many friends as possible or on the other side they could be lonely and seek as many friends as the “friend slut” mentioned before. It also goes into how people can steal one’s information from their profile page. Of course in Adnan’s issue, it was much worse than just stealing someone’s home address and phone number.
What is interesting is the part about getting diseases like cancer or even the common cold just by being on Facebook. It seems almost ridiculous that such a thing can happen, but the evidence does make it more convincing
I do agree that Facebook is almost necessary today, especially for collegians like us. It is a great way to connect with old friends from high school who one has not been able to communicate to them for months. It is up to us, though, to be smart with it and to not abuse it.

You bring up a lot of interesting points, especially with the diseases that can be associated with these kinds of sites. It may be true that a hindrance on the “production of leukocytes” may contribute to a person’s sickness, but can isolation on Facebook really accomplish this? Let’s say a person contributes three hours of their time stuck in their dorm room being on Facebook while not interacting with others around them and becomes sick. Can the same person still be stuck in their dorm room for three hours studying or reading still not interacting with anyone and not be sick? To me, there is virtually no weight on any one of those two that will cause them to get sick while the other will not get sick. Besides, the main reason for the “common cold” stems from bacteria, and has no relation to the physical action or location of a person.
I agree with you on your notions that we tend to become addicted to facebook because of the reassurance or acceptance we get. I believe that it is easy to manipulate anyone into “liking” you on Facebook. Simply by posting some quotes or some personal information, which may or may not be true, anyone can look at one’s profile and say “hey, I think he’s pretty cool since we have all these aspects in common.” As a result, a person may have the tendency to hide behind their facebook profiles and shield themselves from reality. After all, face to face communication is the best learning tool. No one wants to be asked a question in which they have to wait five minutes, write down an answer in writing form and then give it to the person who asked the question.

Any study, research paper, and expert opinion about the effects of facebook can be succinctly summarized by the popular Youtube video “Facebook in real life”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrlSkU0TFLsThe greatest argument for facebook is that it helps connect and stay in tune with the lives of your friends, but the video shows just how realistic and in tune facebook is with real life. Facebook in now way mirrors real relationships, yet ‘facebook official’ actually means something in our culture. My friend, Matt, actually recorded a video describing the social turn offs of the facebook phenomena. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMVWv6NTl8Y. This video turned out to be a huge hit on Youtube, the other child in the huge technological networking family. People are presented on facebook as an extension of themselves, the images they want to present, the profile you collect like you would a ‘stack of pokeman cards’. And we cannot get enough. You know you want to have one more friend then your ex, or that a wall post is not just internet graffiti, but a personal note addressed directly to your profile. Although the psychological effects and ontological quandaries are unanswered, one thing is clear, facebook is officially here to stay.

I agree with some of the things in your position statement “Social networking sites such as Facebook, Bebo, MySpace and Twitter were all designed to help keep people connected. With their increasing popularity though, people all around the world are becoming obsessed, spending hours and even days in isolation”. I think this is true but when it comes to these social networking sites people have to maintain self control and make the rights decisions. It may be hard for people to do this because as you mentioned “The reasoning behind this claim is that isolation from the real world and face-to-face interaction can hinder” this depends on a lot of other things such as how stable a person is, do they need mental help, are they depressed, why don’t they interact with people outside of these sites, if they are being ignored by peers or family members, are they victims of abuse, and many other factors.
I think the death of sixteen year old Adnan Patrawala could have been prevented if his guardians paid him more attention. If his guardians allowed him to use the computer they should have took some time and looked into what their child was doing online whether it social networking or just on the internet in general.
From the way I was raised I know not to ever give anyone online my address or phone number or anything where they track me down and that is something that people should just when social networking.
I think the cause of diseases can’t be prevented with social networking because the networking sites always have available excess no matter what time of the day it is or time management while on these sites.
I also think that social networking can be an addiction for people who really enjoy it and sometimes benefit from and just like other addictions it takes time and effort to break those addictions.

In this position statement you have stated many good points and very good sources to back them up. I do agree that Facebook has been misused by having students during class along with any free moment they have. It is very interesting to think about what the social network can cause if you have been on it for too long. The diseases and sicknesses are unbelievable that are caused by doing too much social networking. I think that if student would cut back on the amount of time they spend on Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, or any other social networks it would better their education and would not cause harm to them. Also along with the diseases and sicknesses you can get, you mentioned the harm that students and teenagers are going through by having too much information on their profiles. It is best that you put a very small amount of information on your profile so that harm does not occur to you or anyone else. Just like you mentioned about the teenager that was kidnapped and murdered we do not want anything bad to happen to anyone else. So we should learn how to identify what the right amount of information we put on our profile is or just know to keep in very little so harm does not occur. Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, and many other networks are the main way that the younger generation communicates and that should not be misused and just use it for social networking.

Nice interpretation.

In second thought you got a point..

K B Carey
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