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).
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