by Princes Angeles Testimonials, likes, comments, tags, notifications, wall posts, tweets… social networking. From Friendster to Facebook to Twitter, people from all walks of life have been affected by various social networking sites. Whether it may be for the better, or for the worse, these modern means of communication has become part of our everyday lives. Surveys even show that one of every six minutes spent online could be attributed to social networking. Studies show that older teens are the frequent users of social networking sites. For girls, these sites are primarily places to reinforce pre-existing friendships; for boys, the networks also provide opportunities for flirting and making new friends. Social networking sites promote socialization and diversification. Through these, we can connect with people across the globe. These sites have introduced a new and easier way of communication. They are an excellent innovation. You can know a lot about a person by simply devoting 5 minutes looking at his/her profile. (Yes, it’s also a good platform for stalking people.) Even though social networking has provided better communication, recent debates have been rising as to whether or not, these sites are indeed a “blessing” to humanity. Some claim that Facebook and Twitter are the worst inventions of all times. It is said that they only cause trouble and unproductivity. Students get distracted; their
grades are being affected. “Five minutes nalang, tapos magla-log-out na ko…” – this is the usual thing we say to ourselves while enjoying liking status, tagging photos, and stalking profiles. However, 5 mins. lead to 30 mins., and 30 mins. lead to an hour, and it goes on. It’s like we’re being hypnotized; we can’t even notice the time. In the end, we’ll just realize that we haven’t accomplished anything at all! Thanks to facebook and twitter and all these “social networking distractions.” Then we swear never to give in to temptation again, only to find ourselves doing the same thing o v e r a n d o v e r . Now, let’s travel back in time and find out whether or not these social networking sites are indeed the worst inventions in history. When we were in primary school, things were simple. We play “physical” games – tagu-taguan, patintero, tumbang preso, taya-tayaan,etc. At the end of the day, we go home with bruises on our knees and stains on our shirts. But despite these, we were happy. We enjoyed our time with our friends. Things were that uncomplicated. We appreciate cheap toys and simple games. Come high school, things were pretty much the same. Friendster was invented. It was the first fa-
mous social networking site in the Philippines. But it was not as widely-used as those of today’s sites. It didn’t affect our communication to a great extent. Let us go back to the present. Today, on the average, Filipinos visit Facebook (FB) three times a day for a total of 34 minutes. Same is true about 10 million Filipinos on FB on any given day or almost 20 million Filipinos logging into FB every month. This shows how facebook (not just FB, but other social networking sites as well) has been part of our lives. Even children of inappropriate ages have accounts in these sites. They don’t go out and play anymore. Instead of bruises from playing outside, they get back pains and eye problems from staying in front of the computer all day. They don’t meet friends through playing with them (physical meeting); instead, they meet t friends online. (Which is not safe e at all!) Aside from these issues, social networking sites have been the cause of recent fights and tensions. For instance, celebrities have been filing law suits against each other due to f o u l p o s ts a n d c o m m e n ts (commonly, Twitter wars). Having these in mind, wouldn’t it make us
think, are social networking sites helpful or destructive? Are social networking sites really necessary for better socialization? Are we that pathetic to rely on online meetings and chats to keep our friendships alive? I once asked a friend why she doesn’t have a Facebook account. She said she doesn’t need it and she sees no point in social networking online. I told her my reason of socialization and rekindling old friendships and stuff. But then she replied, “There’s a reason why friends drift apart. If you’re friendship is meant to last, you won’t be needing these social networking sites to communicate. You’ll be able to find ways and time despite your busy lives.” She had a point. That statement got me thinking, “Is it worth it?” Do the benefits outweigh the cost of using these sites? Aren’t the fun times we’ve had and the laughter(s) we’ve shared worth every bruise on our knees? Aren’t physical meetings and friendly talks better than online chats? If these social networking sites weren’t invented, could our lives be any different? Are we better of without these? Wouldn’t it be better to just go back to the basics?