It is amazing how someone can find a long-lost friend through a social networking site, enabling them to reconnect. In a society where people have become quite mobile and family and friends are often geographically separated, it is convenient to keep in touch through technology.
However, one need not look far to find problems associated with social networking sites. There is a lively debate about whether internet addictions are real. To me it appears to be a real problem (perception is often reality in a social context) with which people have to grapple. Some assert that these websites contribute to cheating on significant others, often leading to divorce. People have been fired from their jobs or put under pressure because they use these sites at work or because something is posted on a site that undermined the person’s professional standing.
Although divorce and loss of employment are serious issues, perhaps they are not as common as other problems that have the potential to stem from social networking sites. Narcissism—excessive interest in one’s appearance and in oneself—is sometimes manifested on social networking sites. I often wonder whether people use these sites to display their popularity to the world rather than use them as a vehicle to develop meaningful relationships.
Creating meaningful relationships is often about sharing our lives with others, and technology can allow us to do so through photos, videos, text and music.
Siddiqui is consultant and clinical psychologist at Wockhardt Hospital, Mira Road, Mumbai.