The Instigator
ptc
Pro (for)
Losing
10 Points
The Contender
behindblueeyes
Con (against)
Winning
18 Points

Say NO to online social networks.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/22/2008 Category: Technology
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,486 times Debate No: 3747
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (0)
Votes (8)

 

ptc

Pro

The term "Online Social Networks" here refers to -- A web service that uses software to build online social networks for communities of people who share interests and activities or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others.

For example -- Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, SecondLife etc.

Online Social Networks (OSNs) are waste of time for a major percentage of online users; except a few those benefit by advertising their products and spamming everyone else. The information provided by users can be exploited in a multitude of ways; I can elaborate more on those as we proceed through the debate.
behindblueeyes

Con

First off, I would like to thank you for opening this debate.

Moving on; Now, it is my understanding that your two main points stemming from your opening argument are these:

(1) Online Social Networks are waste of time for everyone except for advertisers
-and-
(2) Users can be exploited because of what information they post onto the site.

To begin, I will answer your first argument, by highlighting three types of users that make accounts on social networks (SNW)

1: The casual user
2: The specialist
3: The hardcore user

(1) Casual User: These are the ones that create accounts maybe because it's the cool thing to do, or just to keep up on the goings on in there life with friends/family/etc. They typically check there account every few days, answering messages/friend requests/wall posts, things of that nature.

The benefits of the SNW for these users are small, but they justify actually having accounts. On most SNWs, one is able to create an event, and invite friends to it. This is one plus from social networking, the ability to plan things online, and talk to people that you may not normally talk to. Also, it can be used as a beefed-up email, if one misses an assignment, they can message a peer to get the notes.

Moving on:

(2) Specialist: These are the ones that make accounts, because of something they do. Myspace has gotten a lot of credibility for Myspace Music, a subsidy of the large site. A lot of current musicians have Myspace accounts that people can go to, to listen to music. Myspace Music has helped propel many artists. One such is Josephine Collective, a band out of Johnson County Kansas. They're one of the biggest things in Kansas right now, and have a very large cult following. Because of their Myspace page, a Warner Music representative offered them a contract, and they will have a major label release in the summer.

Also, there have been specialized sites that musician's can sign onto, such as Purevolume, or Imeem. Because of the mass amount of SNWs out there that support music, a lot of indie bands have gained popularity, such as Vampire Weekend and the Black Keys.

Specialized SWNs aren't just limited to music, though. While major ones such as Facebook allow groups to be made, so say, a runner can find running partners, there are smaller, more intimate sites, that allow everyone to know each other. There are sites for certain sports, or for people who like to write.

Now onto number three.

(3) Hardcore Users: These are the ones that basically live online. Now, whether or not people in the "real world" think this is right or not, the user still does it. It might seem like a bad habit, but in actuality, aside from the chance of becoming overweight, it really isn't. There are plenty of people in the world like this, the ones shunned by their peers, the ones that no one in "real life" likes. But, they thrive online, by talking to people just like them. Perhaps they just have an interest in something that no one in their town does. That's what's beautiful about the internet, is that you can find another person that shares the same interests as you.

To tell people like this that SWNs waste their time, is just overzealous, because you're not the one living their life. Perhaps it's your goal to do things off the internet, but here are just three prime examples of people that, while they may be on SWNs a lot, don't waste their time. It's there choice, not yours.

Now, onto my second argument:

Although there have been instances where people have been scammed, or kidnapped, because of what they post online, this really isn't the majority. When you have millions of people signed onto these thing, having a few thousand get hurt isn't significant. Not to mention the fact that the sites clearly state about the threats of putting information out into the public. Also, there are privacy settings that a user could implement, and it comes down to good judgment and common sense. This isn't just limited to SWNs, it is a bad thing that injustices happen, but they'll happen on any level of the internet, if the person is ignorant enough to fall into a trap. It can happen to Myspace users, it can happen to blog users.

The internet isn't safe, but, it's not dangerous either, if you have common sense.

In conclusion, it's pretty selfish to have your viewpoint, because everyone makes accounts for different reasons. Just because you may not want to "waste your time on one" doesn't mean that it is, in fact, a waste of time.

Thank You.

-BBE
Debate Round No. 1
ptc

Pro

Thanks BBE for accepting the challenge; may the better debater win!

Well, I pretty much like the categorization you've done but would like to mention an important point that you've missed to observe -- a user usually enters as a casual user and then gradually becomes a hardcore one as starts exploring various so called "cool" features of OSNs. Studies on OSNs have shown that people spend hours in these virtual worlds browsing other user's profiles, reading about their interests and events in their personal lives (whom they don't even know and mostly not going to meet in their lives). This time is nothing but a waste, isn't it? What possible difference is going to happen in my life if I don't know what some unknown Shelly (from London) and some unknown Michael (from Italy) did on their weekends? People keep on browsing through other's albums and watching their birthday videos -- why? just because they are posted there!

As you pointed out, the worst part is when they become hardcore users -- live on OSNs! By the way, it's not just about getting overweight my friend; it's about being socially isolated. Further it's about committing suicides due to the depression that comes with social loneliness. There is a disturbing correlation between time spent in online social networks and intensity of social isolation -- social isolation is found(1) growing exponentially with time spent on OSN! As per Durkheim's theory of egoistic suicide, social isolation and loneliness can cause depression. And his theory points out that less integration with society and community around us often leads to suicide (2).

So instead of wasting time getting farther away from real world, why not to go out and meet real people? May be its not that easy to "poke someone" or to "add as a friend" in real world ... may be it takes more confidence, liveliness and skill to make connections in real world ... but finally, the life is here my friend, a real world around us! Because no one in their neighborhood comes to them and extends a hand for friendship, they prefer to build worlds largest friend-list on "www.facebook.com". It might make them feel important temporarily but reality is going to knock doors in the afternoon or may be in the evening, for sure. Then what? Online world will never be an alternative. Even after spending hours in virtual world, one can't get that peace of mind or a feel of refreshment that comes with spending quality time with your real friends in real world activities. We're real human beings ... and so, by nature, need company of real people. It can't be simulated by some software. OSNs have (supposedly) been build to bring people closer but what they do is to create socially isolated individuals with a millions (may be more) "names" listed in their friends-list there -- whom they rarely interact after adding to the list!

Now about the specialist users. Well, online social networks are built for masses and so respond best when used in general. You find thousand people who doesn't share any interests with you before finding one that does. Again, by design, OSNs are not for specialists -- if designed with a specific interest in mind then that would impact their chances of attracting other large population. If you're specifically looking for people whom you can share a specific interest (say, like to debate) then you've to search for platforms designed specifically for that purpose. On OSNs, its hard to make those sort of connections because there people come to do general things -- a "time-pass" kinda stuff. It's like installing windows operating system to use calculator functionality ... isn't it better get a calculator itself? It's better to find a platform designed for specific purpose as it will be limited to only people that you're interested in interacting with and also will be feature rich for that specific interest -- moreover as they're designed for that specific purpose, you're implicitly asked to do that something specific and so at the end -- something useful. As an example, you've suggested that people may want to create events and invite others by using OSNs-- why not to use "www.evite.com" which is specifically designed for that purpose? If you miss your assignment, drop to your friend's place or use the email-alias to communicate with other students in your class. If you like music, join a music class or go to musical events -- you will definitely find more similar-minded people there. OSNs are jack of all (good for nothing specific) and that's why a waste of time.

Now coming towards another major issue (after social isolation and waste of time) -- private information exploitation. As a matter of fact, information posted there by users can be (and has been) exploited in variety of ways. Well, someone may say, they're not bound to reveal their information but there are two reason that people do it. Firstly they are not aware of possible ways that their information could be exploited (and we can't simply expect them to be because all are not tech-savvy). All newbies there are too overwhelmed by "cool" features of OSNs that they forget that there exist a word called "privacy" and write everything in their profile, even their private relationships and beliefs. They think it makes their profile more "cool". Secondly, OSNs, by design, ask people reveal as much information as possible -- to create "complete" and "attractive" pages showing what they like to do, whom they like, their photographs, their videos, what they did today etc. At the end, more the people reveal, more other people would like to visit their pages (and so more traffic on OSNs).

As you've already mentioned about some information exploitation possibilities, I don't need to to stress further a point that we already agree upon. Now my friend, if you're just relaxing because the percentage is small today then that's dangerous. There is a known threat and so we can't ignore it just because not "enough" incidents have happened or published -- "yet".

Ultimately, as far as relationships are concerned, Internet's vantage point is it's asynchronous nature. It's better to use it for that advantage. It can be used to keep in touch with friends and family whom you can't call up regularly or may be it's better to use email/instant message if you just wanna say "hi! whassup?". That's it. But when it's considered as replacement for some real world activities or relationships, it's certainly waste of time (and further dangerous) -- and that's what's a goal of OSNs -- so we should just say NO to them!

(1) Stanford study chart: http://cse.stanford.edu....
(2) Egoistic suicide: http://en.wikipedia.org... (in suicide section of the article)
behindblueeyes

Con

I'll start with your argument about exploitation. I hate to say this, I really do, but the exploitation kind of comes with the territory. Sure, users can be smart, and not give out information, but, like you say, some will slip up, and let information out there that is personal to them.

However; this is a risk a lot of people are willing to take. Why? Comparitively, it doesn't happen that often. Sure, there are hundreds of cases every few months of people getting cyber-stalked, and people losing money, but compared to the millions of people that have information out there, this isn't a significant problem.

Part of this is alleviated, by the use of specialized networks, because everyone knows everyone there.

I can see where you are comng from regarding the hardcore user thing, but still (and I understand you brought up studies), that's still a personal opinion. You're resolution is to say no to online social networks, by claiming they are a waste of time. No one has a right to say that, except for the user themselves. Casual users don't really become hardcore users, they generally just have accounts, and may end up being online a cumulative 15 hours a week. This is affirmed by the fact that a lot of people that have Facebook, are leading members of their community, and their school. If they were hardcore users, they would not have time for such endeavors.

Also with the hardcore thing, it may in fact be better for them to have a life online. They may be ostracized from their peers, and may be unsocial in real life, but online, they have a social life. Again, your view of a social life isn't necessarily theirs. If suicide rates were really how you say they are, then there would be A LOT more suicides, because there are in fact a lot of people that thrive online.

As for specialty sites, there are a multitude of networks that people can join, to meet other people like them.

vampirefreaks.com - Not sure how you will view this, because I'm not sure how you view the goth subculture, but this is a site for people that are into death metal, and for people that are members of the gothic subculture. It allows them to talk to other people just like them, without the repercussions of the real world.

purevolume.com - This is a pseudo-social network, giving users the ability to sign up as musicians or listeners, and upload/listen to music. It can connect a lot of people through music.

specialopspaintball.com/brigade - This is a network where paintball players can discuss the sport, as well as meet in real life to have matches.

These sites are not a waste of time to the users. Again, I'll reiterate that one of your few claims against these networks is that they are a waste of times. Maybe they are for you, but the ones that use them, generally see them as a good use of time.
Debate Round No. 2
ptc

Pro

Well, I am not sure what you mean by territory in this context but if it refers to crime happening in some specific regions of world then I don't think that's a right argument as far as OSN are concerned. OSN -- by definition -- are "online" social networks and so accessible to anyone from anywhere in the world. The private information posted by some innocent teenager can be equally exploited by any online predator -- may be located in victim's neighborhood or some other part of the country. Now you're saying people are willing to take that risk as the percentage of exploitation is -- in your opinion -- very small. But as I mentioned previously, may be the percentage is small "yet" or even smaller incidents have been well published "so far" -- and it's wrong to overlook it on that basis. Also it's not some tiny issue to just ignore about it! In fact, you too have mentioned about some possible exploitation concerns in R1, which I think are quite serious in nature, ain't they?

To be more precise, let me list a few of them here --

http://wjz.com...
--------------------------------------------------------
"In New Jersey, Majalie Cajuste is grieving the murder of her daughter Judy. The 14-year-old reportedly told friends she met a man in his 20s through MySpace.com"

"Across the country, in Northern California, friends are mourning 15-year-old Kayla Reed. She was active on MySpace until the day she disappeared."

http://www.foxnews.com...
--------------------------------------------------
"So-called 'social networking' sites, such as MySpace and Xanga make it easier than ever for predators to cloak their identities online."

Apart from life threatening crimes and sexual assaults, information published by "innocent" kids over social network profiles have been exploited into financial scams, defamation, and mis-using user's photos and videos into pornographic content. This information has caused people to loose their jobs, break relationships and receive threats (by using contact information).

OSN has become an attraction to teenagers, who're not yet completely aware of all its black side. And so they post a lot more private stuff, that's what is exploited by online predators. Following incident will make the point clearer (if not yet):

http://www.cbsnews.com...
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

CBS News Technology Analyst Larry Magid had a look at one personal profile on the site, belonging to a 15-year-old girl.

Magid says the girl writes in her description, "Drink a 40, smoke a bowl, sex is good, life is great, we are the class of 2008."

"Now if you were a predator and you read something like that, what would it tell you about this young lady?"

"I'd target her, I think," Magid replies.

Now, I don't think private networks -- that you mention -- are related to OSNs. Technologies like VPN (Virtual Private Networks) help to restrict communication among a well known set of people. On the other hand, OSNs are designed for helping people to meet new (and so unknown) people and are for casual communication (in contrary to confidential matters). Just to have private communication, I think, social network will be a least qualified tool.

Alright, it seems that you've misinterpreted the information and stats those I mentioned in R1. They indicate the relationship between people absorbing themselves into online worlds with rates of suicides due to social loneliness. Online worlds provide them an easy opportunity to become socially isolated. If they don't indulge into online worlds, then they wouldn't come into picture as far as those stats are concerned (these stats are not about in general suicide cases so your argument holds little irrelevant here). Now apart from the stats, if your claim is like -- lack of online worlds would force people to commit suicide, when they can't find good company in real world then I would argue that it will, indeed, be exactly the opposite case. There will not be any easy way out for those people to get away from reality i.e. to indulge into online worlds and get a false temporary feel of importance -- and so they will have to stick to reality and try to adapt real world communications capabilities -- which is going to help them in long run.

And thanks for mentioning some of the specific resources. In fact, this very platform -- debate.org -- is a very good example of a specialized platform. Here we don't create our profiles with photos, videos, and personal irrelevant stuff like people do on OSNs. As mentioned before, OSNs are generic in nature (nothing specific about it!) and so fail to focus on any specific area. Whereas, this site is restricted to facilitate debates -- that's it! And that's why better than some debate-like functionality that usually exist on a generic social networking site. The difference in quality (and relevancy) of discussion content can be seen by comparing debates here with forums over social networks like facebook, orkut, myspace etc.

Well, yes, at the end of a day, it is a personal choice for everyone whether they want to waste time on social network or not. We can just, at most, point out the possible harms and express our opinions here :)

To summarize:

OSNs waste your time with opportunities to indulge into casual (useless) browsing through others profile content, photos, videos.

OSNs offers nothing helpful due to lack of focused content.

OSNs have been exploited by online predators to harm innocent users by using their profile information.

OSNs help spammers to flood you with advertisements targeted based on your interests mentioned and tracking your activities there.

On the contrary, a platform designed specifically for some specific purpose -- like debate.org -- serves much better for a specific purpose . And so I would appeal people to say NO to those wasteful OSNs and urge to vote in my favor :)

BBE, thanks for the fair game -- I wish -- may the better debater win :)

Btw, you mention about some people who manage to cut down their OSN usage to minimum hours and succeed in real life communities and activities -- I think, they've realized it's real worth then!
behindblueeyes

Con

The main argument I will by replying to, is your one about Specialized networks. You continue to not believe that such a thing can exist. I offered up a few suggestions, and here is one more:

http://sermo.com... -- A specialized OSN for Doctors. They talk about the field of medicine, and things of that nature. This is neither spread out nor useless, as it shows that people who's career involves saving lives, can talk to their peers about what they do. This certainly isn't a waste of time.

Like I've said before, it's just one of many, and I'd like to reiterate again, that your saying that OSNs are useless, is your opinion. I'd just like to clarify that I know many things on Debate.org are opinions, but, this is where it actually matters, because your statement is that it's a waste of time to pretty much everyone.

On the subject of debate.org, while it isn't as vast as Facebook or Myspace, it's closer to an OSN then you think. While we don't have a messaging system, we can still create a pretty deep profile. We can upload a personal picture as well, and can browse other people's profiles. This brings me to another point. People may browse other's profiles just for the heck of it, but it's also could teach them something. At a place like this, someone could learn more about a parties political views, or find a lot of new quotes. At a place like sermo, people can find what methods work for what doctors.

When I said "it comes with the territory" I was mainly making a figure of speech. A lot of users know about the dangers of putting information out on the web, whether they learn it from the news, from their peers, or just from reading something on their respective networks.

I understand that bad things will still happen, but again, as bad as it is to say, it's not a real significant problem. There are millions of profiles out there, and there aren't a significant amount of crimes reported each year.

I'll close this debate by saying this, and this is not just for the sake of winning or losing, but for taking away a lesson:

What is a waste of time to some, is a lifestyle to others. We're in an age where someone can have a life online, whether it's through an OSN, or an MMO, like Warcraft. It's not anyone's place to judge which is which, for each person.

Thank You.

-BBE
Debate Round No. 3
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