To what extent participating in online social networks improve our work and personal lives?
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First of all, it is important to understand that social networks are neutral - neither good nor bad - in themselves! So, whether they improve our work and personal lives is based upon how we use them. Thus, there are ways they can ruin or improve our lives.
Personal livesSocial networks help us connect with our friends, kin and relatives even when we don't have time to meet them physically, or even when they are located far away. Social media mediates our social relationships. We are updated about our near and dear ones on regular basis thus, our social bonds remain strong.
We get information about the people we care right in our "News Feed" so that those of us who care can take action immediately. For example, when someone is sick, she posts a "Facebook Status" and immediately her "friends" can inquire about her health condition, or even show up in the hospital to meet her if the case is serious.
During times of disasters, social media let's us campaign to seek or provide help and support to the needy ones. For instance, during the recent earthquake in Nepal, Facebook and Twitter became important tools for communication, campaigning and the like. Facebook had "Mark as Safe" feature which allowed us to see who were safe and who were not among our friends. Usefulness of social networks are limitless if we can exploit them.
On the downside, Facebook sometimes wreak havoc in personal lives. It is particularly due to misuse of such networks. We often hear the scandals, getting viral in social media. Sometimes, people post the private information or even photographs of a person which might ruin their life. There are number of ways social media have been misused and mishandled in the past. So, we need to take caution.
Again, posting fake information is quite common in Facebook. Lay people have also become content creator, after the advent of social media. This has in one way, empowered an otherwise a common person, whereas in other way, have turned them into creator of fake content. It is not a matter of surprise, that lay people do not verify or do sufficient research about the validity of the content, or do not consider the future implications of what they publish or are going to publish. This can mislead a number of people who cannot decipher whether the information is true or not.
Work livesWork lives can also be improved. Social media provide us features like groups and pages where we can collaborate with our team members. We can discuss work related stuffs and ways to improve our work lives. Sometimes, they are the fastest means of non-personal communication. For example, when a notice is published for employees, traditionally people need to either visit the notice board or visit a website, both of which require some efforts. However, if they are posted in social media, they reach targeted audience without much effort.
Social media help us get in constant touch with our colleagues so that we are informed and updated about our work schedule, and any other things that arises in our workplace. Also, we can be updated about our work progress as the different members are handling different aspect of a work or a problem.
Similarly, there are other specific social networks for our work. LinkedIn, for example, is one such network, which helps connect employees with employers, team members and so on.
In addition, social networks allow us to collaborate with workers irrespective of our geographical location.
Again, if we misuse, it might be devastating. However, with strong cyber laws, and regulation from the government, social media can contribute a lot to our personal and work lives.