Everyone likes to be in touch with friends and family. But, these days it is getting difficult. Geographical separation within family and friends has increased.
Also, with our busy schedules and the demanding nature of work, it gets increasingly difficult to make new personal relations or even stay in touch with the existing ones. It has become a luxury to take time off from our work and spend time with the people we want to. The increased distance, and the busy hectic schedules, impose a great deal of restrictions on our social life.
A need to communicate across boundaries and time-zones
What we need is a medium of communication that helps us transcend these boundaries and restrictions. Something that can help us converse irrespective of how far someone is. The internet, as a medium, seems ideal, in this respect. With its any-time and almost-universal availability, it may well be a great means of improving one's social life. The Web enables you to join the biggest party there is; a party that's on all the time and whose guests just keep joining in. You can meet new people, find long-lost schoolmates or build lifelong relationships with people who you did not even know.
Professionally, the Web has been a boon to me. As a software professional, I have met a group of genuine people who give me advice, opinions and views. Conversely, I have been able to bolster my confidence by helping others through my advice and views. These are selfless relationships, not based on monetary expectations, but on the basis of pure exchange of information and knowledge.
A big professional challenge we all face, is to prove our expertise and build credibility within the industry. Meeting this challenge is not possible without interacting with other professionals and experts, all over the world. An online network is a blessing for all professionals, especially self-employed ones. The network offers multiple opportunities to showcase your talent, and build credibility. You can connect with people who, in spite of being geographically apart, can influence your work immensely. From another perspective, the Web is one of the fastest ways of harnessing the cliched "six degrees of separation".
My personal relationships, too, have benefited greatly from the Web. My ex-colleagues are in the US; my sister is in the UK; and many of my college friends are placed over India. At times, I am on the move for work or personal reasons. Before the advent of the Web, this would have meant either staying disconnected from them or spending a fortune to stay in touch with them through long-distance phone calls. The Web has made it really easy as well as economically feasible to stay close with my family and friends. I regularly share my life with my loved ones, by sharing photos and videos.
In emergencies, the Web is an effective means of communication. In the Mumbai floods of 26th July 2005, many of us were stranded in our offices. With the telephones and mobiles not working, there was no way to intimate our families of our location and status. The Mumbai Help blog (http://mumbaihelp.blogspot.com/) was extremely useful in conveying messages to loved ones and sharing critical information like flood-status of various roads.
It is important to realise that every social activity has its share of miscreants, and the Web is no exception. The Web offers a thicker cloak of anonymity to its users. It can be used by some to deceive you. Someone can very easily setup a fake e-mail ID or even a fake company website and mislead you into believing it. Always give some time for online relationships to grow, and be careful while giving away sensitive information. This is true for communication through any media like mobile phones or even about a stranger, who lands at your doorstep. But the lesser restrictions imposed by the Web can tempt you into dropping your guard. Web is only as good as how you use it - so, be careful and get the most out of it.
Online social networking websites are places where you can find communities around your interest. There are many social networks with specific purpose. Here are some of them.
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