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Are we becoming reclusive by our addiction to social networking site?

avatarUdut, Kenneth -- on Nov. 24 2008, from Golden Gate Estates, Naples, FL
Founder of this Naples site of NeighborHelp Referrals.

A repost from "The Hindu" - eye opening

Are social-networking sites making us reclusive?

SHARANYA HARIDAS Some of them appear to be promoting varied versions of new-age schizophrenia

RECENTLY A friend of mine did the unthinkable — she deleted her profile from a popular social networking site of which she was a member, binned all those touching testimonials and friendship ratings sent by mates and adoring fans, kissed goodbye to that whole long list of contacts and resigned herself to a life of solitary sanyasin.

Ok, not quite. The next few lines are not for the weak hearted among those of you `propah' 21st century netizens for they could result in serious ear-bleeding, so if you belong to this category you are advised to lay off.

In an age where this modern means of communication is shrinking distances between people and has flattened this wide, wide world into a compact and easily accessible global community and where not belonging to at least one of these networking sites is equivalent to social non-existence, this extraordinary diva shall for ever go down in 21st century history as one who has renounced civilisation — as Mahavira did in his time; for where is civilisation in the 21st century, but online? As it turns out, renouncing this site was only the tip of the iceberg; the real shocker arrived when she publicly confessed to being addicted to it and declared this move as being "the most liberating and satisfying thing" she had done in a long time.

Not an isolated case

Shocking? Absurd? Not to those of us for whom the internet is steadily becoming or — God forbid — has already become something of an addiction. Although this new disease — `netsieze'?! — of internet addiction permeates all barriers of age and gender, it is seen to be most widely prevalent among youngsters and is spreading with all the rapidity with which mosquitoes multiply in the summer.

Just a few weeks ago, IIT Mumbai announced its decision to help its students `get a life' by terminating internet connectivity for an hour between 11.30 p.m. and 12.30 a.m. Apparently, these juvenile netizens, like countless others all over the nation, were engaging in the greatest delinquency of them all — hitting self destruction by choosing to stay online over all other activities: attending classes, studying, pursuing other hobbies or means of recreation and forging new real-life relationships.

Although the move provoked mixed reactions, it brought to light the possibility of the internet in general and social-networking sites in particular making people more reclusive than social.

So what is it about these sites that makes them so difficult to stay away from?

Through the sociologists' gaze: in a world cut up by implicit rules that firmly though subtly govern our thought, speech and behaviour, these sites are the knives that free us from the shackles of rules of behaviour and codes of conduct; it is not uncommon to see the meekest of sheep among us morph into dexterous lions, able and willing to assert themselves via their every roar through cyberspace.

This is evident from the soaring popularity of news blogs and `serious' communities which were earlier cited as being the forte of the intellectual elite but now have every Tom, Dick ad Harry out to air their views on the latest happenings around the world.

In these giant goldfish bowls, ideas are the bubbles that people play around with until a new one blows their way — seemingly going nowhere; here, petty competition through frivolous debates is ubiquitous as bloggers vie with one another for the kind of satisfaction best described in the words of psychologist John Dewey — "the desire to be important" — and it is exactly this need, which often goes unrecognised in the real world, that all these sites are capitalising upon.

Second life and other sites of that ilk, which allow netizens to live a virtual life, forge virtual relationships, etc., do have a huge following, but also appear to be promoting varied versions of new-age schizophrenia by causing people to draw a subtle mental line of division between their `online' and `offline' personalities. Distressingly, the online one — often far removed from reality — is usually reported as being more interesting and satisfying; clearly, a dangerous deviation from a healthy personality pattern.

If you fall in the above category, or suspect that you are headed in that direction it would do you good to be reminded of all the internet ill-effects on your physical health — each time you groggily drag yourself away from the 'net and into the real world, eyes strained and bloodshot, back sore from rigid hours spent in computer-chairs and limbs feeling like unset jelly.

And if that does not compel you to put a stop to this vicious and self destructive cycle, just pause for a second and think of the message you are sending out to the world by your endless hours spent online — that you have way too much time on hand and not much else to do and no real-world social life. The bottom line? The number of hours you spend online is inversely reflective of your having a life.

Ought to give you some food for thought when you choose to log in next.

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu
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Are we becoming reclusive by our addiction to social networking site? A repost from