Monday, July 23, 2007

Should Social Networking be banned?

The social networking phenomenon, which allows users to create profiles containing photos and lists of personal interests, exchange private or public messages, and join groups of friends like Friendster and Facebook, is the second most popular destination on the web. Nevertheless, it represents dangerous territory at work - a messy fingerprint that blurs the line between work and play, and one that could leave an indelible mark on your career.

There's also a good reason why firms are increasingly looking to ban Friendster and Facebook in the office, just like our Saudi office - quite simply, there are enough distractions in the workplace.

A recent US study found that the average 18 to 34 year-old spends 45 minutes of each work day conducting personal business on the internet. For many addicts, however, 45 minutes just isn't enough - and their work is bound to suffer as a result. After all, why schedule a meeting or pick up the phone, when it's more interesting to sit there ‘poking' an old acquaintance you haven't bothered to keep in touch with for the last 30 years?

On the lighter side, these sites are great alternatives to stay in contact with friends and family back home, without the expensive phone calls, of which we are all casualties of. Post pictures, have conversations with friends - past and present - and for those with slightly voyeuristic tendencies, check out what your mates got up to at the weekend.

Staying in contact with friends is actually easier than using regular emails. Finding long-lost friends is an added benefit of the site. It can be quite therapeutic to see which of your school friends are doing now.

However, we can’t blame our boss if they choose to block these sites in our work places. After all, they are paying our services to their advantage, and spending more time on the net for personal use is against their policy.