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Sep 28

One of the most heralded characteristics of social media is that it is now so easy to maintain contact with all your friends or business network in one handy place. Keep in touch with everyone, tell them what you are up to and be in touch with every part of their life. Now, I am all for the use of social media although I can see some pitfalls.

For starters, I quite like to keep my private life separate from my professional life. So I have a very private facebook account, but every time I change the settings to keep it that way, they come up with some newfangled invention to make sure I will share everything with everyone I don’t necessarily want to share this with. I’m certainly seriously considering leaving facebook again.

Professional networking sites are, at least for me,¬†different. I still don’t post much, but do occasionally participate in a discussion and voice my opinion. Thing is, even though you are ‘talking’ to people from behind a picture, you still have to be carefull no one is biting your head off. I’ve recently been following a discussion that is a prime example of this. It’s gone down hill from the start with only a few participants, but boy oh boy, you should see the comments. Talk about mudslinging and then some. The way not to fall foul of this is, of course, by being a lurker or someone who follows conversations but never participates. Seems to defeat the purpose, but it works for quite a lot of people.

As with everything, the thing is to use it sensibly. If I would read everything everyone posts on any of the social networks I use, I would not have any time left in the day to do anything else. I guess that’s how people end up with thousands of virtual ‘friends’ but no one notices when they go missing. Personally, I use social networks as a means to meet up with people and needless to say, I rather enjoyed the commercial for the Toyota Venza¬†showing a girl behind her PC all the time and the parents being out and about. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUGmcb3mhLM)

Dr Natalie Schoon, CFA

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