Online social networking is becoming increasingly popular nowadays as strings of sites offer this service. My Space, Friendster, Facebook, Cupidbay and many more have created another planet.
A little click of the mouse is the passport to that other world. As we speak someone is busy building a cyber residence for communities who share common interests and activities, worse still this can be an arena for people with ill motives.
Some people are so addictive that there is fear that these networks will displace 'actual' or real life. Employers need to be extra careful for cyber chatting and networking seems to be the job prescription these days. Boineelo Shole, an undergraduate, feels social networks are good as they encourage interaction between people of different cultures, irrespective of physical boundaries.
"Right now as a user of some the networks I can learn a lot from people as far away as Saudi Arabia," Shole said. She said they give room for easy flow of information and knowledge.
However, she warned that people should not be hooked into the cyberspace and cut interaction completely with the real world. As there are two sides to every coin, online social networking has its downs. Shole said people should be careful not to dish out too much personal information to attract social interaction.
"Some people log onto these sites with ill motives and they can use the personal information people provide for criminal purposes," she said. She said though they are useful, students can end up taking much of their time in the world wide web as opposed to their academic career. Though she has not experienced much harassment, Shole said the f**k word was once thrown at her.
"I received an email notifying me that I had won a lottery and knowing well about scams I told the person to stop sending me those messages, the person insulted me," she said.
She also lamented that the friendship in these networks, especially Facebook are not real. She said the males in Face book are obsessed with asking girls out. "It's irritating, it's so fake, the friendship is not real," she
She has not experienced such issues as cyber bullying and fraud but she lamented that these are some of the limitations.
"It's annoying in the sense that other users can post large sums of comments in your inbox, it's time consuming," she said.Naturally, human beings are social beings, and online social networks give room for social interaction across the globe. Keneilwe Nyathi said they offer a platform to get varying views on different subjects.
"They are very convenient and effective for advertising social businesses like event management," she said. Nyathi said through Facebook she joined an event management group called Momentum Seoul, through which she is kept informed about events around the globe. I also know of a student entrepreneur here in Botswana who has started a Hip Hop magazine and he interacts with readers and they give feedback through one of the sites," she said.
However, she said some users do not take time to read through the various sites' regulations and they end up signing up without complying with the regulations.
"Giving too much personal detail is also detrimental as they can give fraudsters access to useful details and this may result in their identities being used in illegal acts," she said.
Online social networks have a good motive, but users need to be extra careful that they don't take citizenship in the cyber space to the extent of cutting real social interactions and cultivating seeds of laziness, so that instead of doing their own work, the person sends a question to a friend at Yale University to attempt it instead of doing the work themselves.