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Social Networking Sites: Both A Blessing And A Curse

By Princella Talley

With the recent Pinterest craze, it’s interesting to see the constant evolution of the social networking world. Gone are the days of Myspace as it gave way to Facebook. Yet, Facebook is currently basking in the spotlight with Twitter and Tumblr. There are pros and cons to all of these online powerhouses in both a professional and emotional sense. Professionally, marketing and advertising has been made much easier. Businesses and independent professionals work to gain thousands (and sometimes millions) of followers to build up a strong base of fans and respect for their company or brand. With a few clicks, deals and important announcements are shared with people all over the world. Talented individuals, such as musicians, have also found fame online after going viral with Youtube videos and gaining millions of Twitter and blog followers. Even the ads on television are commonly referencing their social networking links.

But, it isn’t all business and pleasure in the social networking universe. There are just as many, if not more, people who use these sites for personal reasons and these reasons can sometimes lead to unhealthy habits. Personally, I tend to take breaks from social networking just to keep a level head because it’s surprisingly easy to rely on such sites for interacting with other and end up using the web as substitution for a real social life. During these breaks, I’m commonly shocked at how left out I feel in regards to the lives of my closest friends and family members. In response to my surprise at being left in the dark about big news, I’m commonly met with, “Well, I posted it on Facebook so I thought you knew.”

The highs and lows of many people’s lives are no longer discussed in small circles of close friends. They are posted online to be shared with both friends and strangers alike. Unfortunately, the responses to these posts can have the potential to determine one’s level of self-esteem. More than a few people are creating stories and unrealistic views of themselves just to get a few likes, shares, and retweets. The amount of attention and respect given online can sometimes serve as fuel to log onto a website instead of doing things that are a bit more productive.

Avoidance of social networking sites is almost unheard of in modern times, and this statement can be easily confirmed. To test this theory, simply tell someone that you do not use Facebook (or any similar platform) and note the reaction. There will either be hints of shock, confusion, or total disbelief. Of course, it would be unfair to say that there are more negatives to these sites than positives. The positives that keep these networks popular involve connection, understanding, and meeting new friends or potential partners. At the end of the day, these are the things that socializing is all about, but doing it online just makes it a bit easier and more comfortable.

So how does a person keep from crossing the fine line between networking and all-out narcissism? The answer is simple. Use in moderation! You may not need a full break or account cancellation. All you need is to understand that real life happens when you log off of the computer.

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