Once you enter a network it’s difficult to break out of it; benefits are greater then costs and exit often involves sunk costs. This is Facebook’s case- you enter innocently enough, mainly because your friends are members of the network, convincing yourself that it is a practical medium for staying in touch with them. If you are alert and conscious of your actions, however, after some time, you realize that how you spend your time on a social networking site does not correspond to how you thought you would spend your time on it- perhaps considering whether or not to cancel your membership from the network- and one realization stops you- you will no longer be able to experience the every day virtual life of your ‘friends’
Admit it, most of us use Facebook either out of habit or because we are bored while at work, waiting for someone or postponing burdensome tasks that do not require our immediate attention. Furthermore why read Grazia or Hello gossip magazines when you can browse your friends statuses and pictures? How many people are reaching their 20s and 30s without a proper vision of who they are and what they do? Most are probably working for a company they do not enjoy working for and are too lazy or tired to pursue their hobbies after work or during the weekends. Some are more preoccupied about their social agenda (or the social agendas of others) rather than pursuing their own personal growth goals. With a computer and a smart phone in our hand at all times, the temptation is too difficult to resist- social media is too accessible to everyone.
Some have argued that social media has a positive impact on society. This is of course partly true especially in cases where ordinary individuals have managed to exploit the internet’s non-existent barriers of entry to their advantage, by making a business out of their hobby or finding a consumer for a product that is otherwise unattainable in the real world. Individuals using the internet with commercial or research objective in mind capture the myriad of benefits the internet, and for that matter, social media has to offer. On the other hand, individuals who are bored, dissatisfied or unoccupied with an interesting project are likely to waste time on social networks- and we all know how addictive wasting time can become!
Are there any cures for the social media disease? On the individual level, I suggest to occupy yourself with challenging, fulfilling and healthy work projects and hobbies and to dedicate yourself to quality off-line relationships. On the organizational level, leaders need to create an interesting and challenging work environment where workers are intrinsically motivated to excel at their work projects. Forbidding social networking sites will do little to prevent the phenomenon- if Facebook is banned from the office computer employees can use their smart phones to access it.
*It is estimated that 2.2 billion euros of revenues and 1.5% of productivity is lost yearly do to personal usage of social networking sites during work hours. Our next generation is growing up online, and economists, psychologists and policymakers alike should be aware of the likely social and economic consequences continuing to take place today and in the future.
Any thoughts? What is your view on the social media/networking phenomenon? Do you consider its impact positive or negative? Let’s continue with the debate! Post any comments here or @indigomemoirs