Social Networking: Friend? Or Foe?

Social networking gets a pretty bad name in academic circles. It distracts students, cry teachers. It’s making us stupid, shout researchers. But for all the negative publicity, the concept of social networking has held strong, even growing in amazing proportions. Students are keen users of new technology, so it is unsurprising that we would make up a large number of social networkers.

Born from email and instant messaging, and growing into the longer blog, through Blogger, MySpace and LiveJournal, social networking is now facing micro-blogging. Short updates on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and the like mean that people around the world are now blasting their friends and followers with an endless stream of meaningless chatter.

Only the keen user can wade through this junk to find useful information, or an enlightening thought. But social networking doesn’t have to be this way. Our generation has the opportunity to set the stage for future networkers. We must make a conscious decision to use social networking as a networking tool.

In the current climate, users are posting in a very egocentric manner. Like little children, they claim to be carrying on a conversation, when in fact, they are not engaging with each other, instead carrying on with a conversation with themselves, while their followers do the same.

Thus, I urge you to have conversations on Twitter, or Facebook, or wherever you are.

Social networking can be an extremely useful tool as a student. I advise checking out College Thrive’s Twelve Twitter Tips if you’re interested in using Twitter effectively. Many of the points could be applied to other networks, like Facebook and Tumblr.

It’s all about connecting with people around the world. Different cultures can provide you with a new outlook on an assignment. If you’re learning a language, emerge yourself in its culture from the comfort of your chair. How about finding a study partner, and learning to read and write together? Think of the possibilities that come from forming relationships with others around the world.

What do you think about social networking? Useless time waster that you can’t stop using? Can’t understand why anyone uses it? Or feel annoyed that people use it so wastefully? Love it and can’t get enough of it? Let us know.

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About Katie Walker

Hey, I'm a student. I'm into web development, so currently I'm working on my blog, a few Tumblr themes, and a few web apps for various purposes. It's exciting stuff.

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