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Tibor V. Varga

PhD student, Lund University

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Are social networks good for us?

I heard many people moaning about how much time they spend on Facebook or other social network sites. But they are still there, posting their stuff every day.
What is the point in participating, being a member of these networks? Do we actually profit from these? How? Why is it sooo addictive?

Any comment about social networks, opinions, experiences are well appreciated!

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    Dec 23 2011: No.
    • Dec 23 2011: Yes, you are right with this one.
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        Dec 23 2011: I also posted "Yes" in a separate post but TED obviously don't do subtle. The admin folk removed it because it violated some rule. Classic knee-jerk reaction, failing to grasp the deeper aspect of why I posted twice.

        Like any tool, social networks can be both 'good' and 'bad' depending on how they are used. I don't believe they are any worse than telephones.

        A lot of people think that they are 'ruining' social interactions, which is, of course, rubbish.

        Connecting people directly is, ultimately, a good thing.
        • Dec 23 2011: Remove the instrument, focus on the application, the reason for its creation, and you will see how bad social networks can be.
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    Dec 22 2011: I think you need to distinguish between the two questions:
    Are social networks good for us?

    and:
    Are online social networking tools good for us?

    The former has been proven time and again to be true. Only the latter is up for debate.
  • Dec 22 2011: Social networks are contradicting. They allow you to contact as many as people as possible, but it does not improve social skills. I will love to say that social networks improve positive thinking or a sense of belonging, but in the end, even those concepts seem to be nothing compared to going out in the real world. These websites are addictive because they are designed for you as the individual to post your own thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of everyday life to the entire world without, most of the time, ridicule. We can even become addicted to just the dynamics of the network meaning immediate reactions from our decisions. To sum up, social networks are not good for us.
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    Dec 20 2011: I can say a few positive things about social networking:
    1. Gets you closer to people than ever before.
    2. Shares ideas with a larger/extended group of friends.
    3. May add a lot of new acquaintance to your list of people you know.

    The disadvantages:
    1. Wastes a lot of time in browsing and commenting.
    2. Puts a great deal of your life online and available for more people to see.
    3. You don't get just positive feedback on what you do and this sometimes spoils the moment.

    All in all, it as simple as that - either you love it or you hate it, accept it or deny it - there aren't many other options.
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    Dec 20 2011: Research in positive psychology suggests that being connected with people with whom one has deep, strong relationships is perhaps the strongest predictor of personal happiness.

    My hypothesis (because I am not an expert in this area) is that for most of us, having these relationships real, or real supplemented by virtual, is more gratifying than a network that is entirely or principally online.

    In either case, I'd think that having a few deep connections is more vital than large numbers of superficial connections.
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    Dec 20 2011: I'm an enthusiastic user of Facebook and Twitter.
    I use twitter to read the news from a variety of sources ranging from international media to local papers. When I find something interesting, I share it on Facebook so my "friends" on there can also read that content. I guess, for me, it's more like a tool to spread ideas, news and other content that, from my point of view, have a value either to generat debate or action.
    Sadly, that's not what most Facebook/twitter users do. I mean, I don't need to know how many times have you've been in the bathroom today!! There're things you can save to yourself!
  • Dec 20 2011: Good, if that is what we do with them. It is up to the individual. Intent, choices.....these are relevant. Seek positive/Find positive, I say repeatedly. Interacting with your contemporaries seems like a good idea, especially if you are in a good mood. HAPPY TODAY.