Facebook disadvantages

facebook-icon-logoWith social networks (SocNets) and online life taking precedence over real life (offline) face to face meetings, there are a number of changes that all of us are going through without us even realizing it. The convenience of getting connected to people without physically moving anywhere is probably a good thing to have, so is the power to get updates and happenings around your near and dear ones’ lives. SocNets also help people find jobs, promote their products and services etc. I am not really overlooking all those good aspects. However, there are so many disadvantages that probably will make the facebookers altogether different human beings who might be losing certain good things and experiences in life.

Negative impacts of facebook (and SocNets in general)

I am not sure if everyone feels bad about the negative aspects of SocNets, but I personally feel nervous at times at the very thought of exposing and risking everything online. The following are some of the disadvantages of social networking.

Lack of privacy

Even with the best privacy settings available, you are still airing your private information to the web. And sometimes your friends’ friend is not exactly the nicest person around. For example, I do have a lot of people from the blogging world connecting to me, but my real life friends may not like me sharing their information with these strangers, right? In a way, everybody out there on a SocNet is letting each other dig into others private life.

Facebook is selling you

An extension to the privacy problem is the way in which facebook is collecting your data and selling it to external applications and organizations. This include, facebook games, apps, and agencies who are interested in the demographic data of millions of people. We even share our photographs online via facebook on which they have the full rights to share with others.

It’s a relationship spoiler

With all these SocNets coming in, people have stopped connecting with each other via visiting them. People even hesitate to pick the phone and talk to their dear ones. Please note that humans are originally programmed to communicate with each other via our five senses and not via keyboard and mouse.

If things go at this pace, it may be even possible that husband and wife and their kids will sit in their respective rooms under the same roof and communicate via facebook.

The other problem is that, even though, it’s easier to be in touch with your facebook friends initially, as the list grows you have to either find more time to track everyone, or neglect many of them. And many times, your priority friends or relatives get missed out.

Reduced soft and communication skills

Many people who are addicted to facebook are either already introverts or they are becoming one. They are losing their communication and presentation skills further by only typing in stuff.

Wasting human resource

Mobile phones and social networks are two major challenges that many employers are facing at the moment as their employees’ productive time at work is rapidly reducing with all these distractions. In countries like India, the social networks and mobile phones are even used for the wrong purposes. Some people use social networks like IMs (Instant messengers) just like the SMS misuse in India. And when the mobile phones are enabled with facebook, it’s a double whammy! Basically, even while on the move, people are distracted.

Cyber stalking

With people connecting with real strangers, the number of cyber stalking and related crime rates are growing at an alarming pace. Many times it’s the teenagers who get cheated when they actually meet the real face behind facebook. There’s been cases of murder, cheating and blackmailing, after people got too close with their facebook lovers. Of course, there are cases with happy endings as well.

In most cases the teens’ parents don’t even know with whom they are communicating and what all activities are they doing online. Inability to monitor kids completely is a big issue. I mean, they expose themselves to the whole world but their parents.

Lighter side of facebook

If used in moderation, facebook or any SocNets can be fun provided that you are using it at a predetermined time and duration without really getting addicted to it. The following are some of the standard behaviors of facebook addicts.

  • Standard comments on photos (especially in India): ‘Very nice family photo, all of you look great 🙂
  • Some people join facebook only to keep ‘like’ing others updates and photos as if their puters don’t have keyboard. Some others don’t even ‘like’ people they just created a facebook account to watch what others are up to
  • Good looking women – hoping that they have posted their original photo – generally get a lot of friend requests – surprisingly even from married middle-aged men
  • Some people use FB only to redirect their tweets (from Twitter) and spam links to facebook
  • Things that girl and boy wouldn’t talk directly face to face is done via facebook. In other words, many facebook super heroes are super zeroes in real life
  • …add yours here…

Over to you

Could you share what have been your facebook experience so far? Do you think, social networks are causing some social problems along with the advantages that they offer? Are you addicted to facebook?

Happy networking!

What is a developed country and what does it take to build one?

India is cruising on an economic boom following the reforms that started a decade ago! As a result it is now leading the rat race of attracting the foreign investment – ahead of countries like China, Brazil and Russia. India has some advantage over the relatively non-English speaking and ‘closed’ business world in the other countries. However, the spending pattern seem to be much more planned in their cases and there are a few things that India needs to workout carefully in order to take the country to a different level in the next fifteen to twenty years.

Most of the developed nations in the Americas, Europe and Oceania achieved that status in the 20th century via exploiting the aftereffects of the industrial revolution. Some of the parameters that supported their positive development included low population figures, early democratization, less corruption and education reforms. If India has to get there in that list it needs to work on more topics than the above in a more intensive fashion. Let me try to analyze some of the key issues (not necessarily in the order of priority) that we have and try to identify some solutions for the same.

Population

The population growth in India for the past few years have been at an annualized growth rate of around 2%. While for the developed nations this figure sounds perfect, India has to really work on cutting down this growth rate by half. If we go at this pace, by 2020 we will have 1.5 billion people in this country. There has to be strict measures to bring the population growth rate to around 0.75% annually at least for the next twenty five years. This can result in a manageable figure of 1.30 billion people by 2030, taking into account the current mortality rate. Further on, the growth rate has to be brought down to 0.4 to 0.5% which is optimal for typical developed nations. The drastic guidelines to achieve this target for a better tomorrow, could include enforcing the one-child-per-family rule. An easy way to enforce this is via imposing heavy consumption taxes (Chinese model) to the government, if there is more than one child in a family. Further more, increased school fees, power/water bills etc can be enforced if the size grows further. But this can work only with 40 or 50 percent of the middle class community. For the slum dwellers and illiterates there has to be a special drive to induce awareness and prioritize the rehabilitation of those who are following one or no child rules. If there are religious, social or racial rules that promote more children, it’s time to abolish such rules via constitution amendments. Providing free contraception and free consulting etc are other options. The government could even think of providing additional benefits and tax exemptions for those who plan to go childless. Some of these things may sound unethical for typical Indian culture, but we have no other go.

Literacy & Education reforms

The population issues are directly linked to the literacy rate. The proof is the state of Kerala (my home state), the most literate state in India, that has the lowest annual population growth (~0.9%) and the highest health index. Back in the 80s this particular state government triggered a mass campaign with the help of various non-profit organizations and thousands of individual volunteers to achieve 100% literacy and at the end of one year they were very close to that reality. This is something that other states can easily implement. The need for education reforms comes next. It is about time the state governments set up larger number of free basic education institutes for primary and middle schools.

Public health

Health is indeed wealth for a state, not just for an individual. Health awareness is primarily induced via basic education and if the latter is taken care of, the health index will naturally improve. What the government has to do is to improve the free supply of basic medicines via more channels than just the government hospitals. In addition, the vaccination drives etc, has to be done via more effective campaigns. The public sanitation facilities really need a face lift the availability of good quality drinking water has to be ensured in each and every village of this country.

Arresting corruption

Bureaucracy is synonymous to democracy in many developing nations. Corruption complements bureaucracy very well and this usually begins with the politicians themselves. Most developed nations have managed to arrest corruption at all levels and this makes sure that funds and taxes collected for development purposes reach the targeted audiences or projects. In India, we need to definitely act fast on a few things. It is high time we set some basic qualifications and clean history requirements for somebody to compete the state assembly or parliament elections. Many of our politicians come from criminal backgrounds and to top it all their educational qualifications are questionable.

For India to become a developed nation, we need people with good sense, great knowledge and vision ruling us. Laws need to be enforced to make sure that our
rulers and leaders are acceptable personalities. Recent developments of disqualifying many politicians from competing the UP elections is indeed a great move. To curb corruption, it is also necessary to empower independent bodies like Lok Ayukta (in Karnataka) that has the power to bring corrupt government officials to the law.

Continue the reforms

With a GDP growth rate of above 9% and current approximate GDP of USD 800 billion, India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world today. Right now it has a healthy foreign reserve of USD 200 billion that has doubled since 2003. At the current pace, it is safer to use part of it to pay off some of our long term debts. Also, the measures taken by the current government to boost exports of cotton products, jewelery, software etc should take the country into an accelerated growth orbit for the next few years. Improved tax collection, extra ordinary performance of Indian companies, resurgence of PSUs, alarming growth in profit of the Indian Railways, Indian companies buying out companies in Europe etc are some of the examples of a great developed nation in the making. We just need to and continue reforms and keep up this pace (or even better it) in the next ten years or so.

Infrastructure

If there is one single thing that stands in the way of development in India, it is the infrastructure related issues. We are nowhere near many of the leading developing nations in terms of providing infrastructure to attract even bigger foreign investments. We really need world class road-rail-air connectivity in this country. This has to be supported by uninterrupted power for industries and good sanitation, drainage and pollution-free air and water. These issues have to be addressed with utmost priority and rest of the things will fall into the right places automatically. It is time we concentrated on tier 2 and 3 cities and even satellite towns to build the infrastructure rather than relying on stagnated metros and cities.

Agriculture

In India we have a variety of crops, oil seeds and spices produced in its states. What we have been doing so far was to bank on the huge man power available and do agriculture the traditional way. This is not a good approach going forward. We need to really modernize our agriculture sector by adopting scientific methods and machinery to prepare the country for a better agricultural growth rate for the future. The agricultural products can top our exports chart if we revolutionize this sector and enough funding is made available. ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kissan‘ is still a great slogan, but I would really like to see the defense budget cut by 20% (for the next ten years) to allocate the same towards agriculture. The agriculture sector growth prediction is not so interesting for the next two years. It stands at around 2% annualized and this is what pulls down the GDP which otherwise is doing great due to stable services sector and manufacturing.

Manufacturing

Maintaining a growth rate of above 10% (as in the case of past year) in manufacturing sector is a great thing but India would be targeting a growth rate of above 14 pc in FY2008. This is indeed a great news though long term target should be more realistic, say 9-10pc. Looks like the current government wants to prove a point by reaching a great milestone in manufacturing while the growing inflation rates and slower agricultural growth doesn’t do any good to anybody.

Change mindsets

More than the scientific ways to maximize growth, what really can take India to the next level is its greatest asset – its people. Historically Indians have been having laid back attitude and we were taught to be lenient and tolerant. This cannot be the case going forward. We need a new generation of people that is aggressive, hardworking, focused and career oriented. This does not mean that our forefathers didn’t do any good to us. They fought their own way and fetched us freedom. The next generation built on top of it and now it’s time for us and the coming generations to maximize the opportunities that lie ahead. This has to be our pledge going forward!