Social networks spawn procrastination or productivity

We all do it. At least, I like to think we all procrastinate. Some people may claim they never slack off, however, I know that I, and many of my peers, struggle to get down to business sometimes and opt out of doing work until the last minute. I personally have always been a productive procrastinator. Instead of doing my newly assigned essay for class, I will wash my dishes or write in my journal. Yes, I know that these are productive ways to spend time, but I really should do my homework first.Unfortunately, I am no longer a productive procrastinator and neither are most of the slackers I know. Instead of spending time on other projects, a lot of us are spending more and more time online. The main reason is to visit social networking sites, like Myspace or Facebook. Most college students that I know don’t use Myspace anymore, but almost everyone I know has a Facebook. There are a few people who resist the trend, which is admirable but not typical.

It does have some benefits, though, such as networking, that is unless you have pictures of yourself drinking at parties or use incorrect grammar in your profile. For me, it makes it easier to keep up with distant friends and connections from traveling. Most people view Facebook as a place to keep in contact with people, but for many of us it is a huge waste of our time.

I looked at my profile recently and realized I have more than 1,000 friends, partially because I don’t like denying people who add me as a friend and partially because I have met a lot of people since I made my account. But how does one person really keep up with 1,028 different people, some of who post statuses about how they are going to make breakfast, or walk their dog, or do any number of things everyone does during the day and somehow it is supposed to be important enough to tell everyone they know?

I hate to complain because I do it too. I assume that whatever I am doing is important and deserves to be posted, when in reality no one cares if “Sarah Townsend is procrastinating writing her article this week.”

Even worse are the too-much-information statuses. I am sorry that so-and-so died dude, but why are you posting it online? The people that really need to know deserve a phone call, and the rest of your friends don’t know how to respond.

Another problem with social networking is that it is easier to gossip about people or get into arguments. The best advice I can give you is to delete gossipers and be mindful of what you put out there. If it seems someone is trying to start an argument, just ignore it. I am a very opinioned person, and when someone leaves something on my wall that bothers me, I generally tell let them know how I feel. This is an immature, innate reaction many people have. The smart thing to do is to ignore whatever it is that is annoying, hide the comment or kill them with kindness.

Many of us can be much harsher online than we would dare to be in person, but think about it. How bored are they to start an argument online? Don’t waste the time. Almost everyone has at some point, and it is not worth the wasted energy.

According to a study at Stanford, Facebook could be a factor in depression. It seems unlikely, but think about what people generally post online: pictures at parties, their smiling family and their beautiful friends. All seem normal enough, but people don’t usually upload pictures of their kids throwing fits in the grocery store or their stressful day at work.

Most of us with accounts view only the surface of other users, and everything looks great. We are all under the impression that everyone on our friends list is happy, happier than ourselves, whether it is realized consciously or not.

Because I’ve found myself online too much and don’t want to quit completely, I made goals for my use of the site. If you’ve found that you have the same problem, you might want to consider the following suggestions.

If you have distant friends, write letters or e-mails. It is more personal than writing on someone’s wall. Skype is also a way to talk to faraway friends. It is free, and you actually get to “see” the person.

If you’re looking for a job, consider the content of your profile. If you’re smart, you’ll clean it up and use proper grammar. I know I need to untag myself from a few pictures before job hunting.

If you have things on your to-do list, don’t log into Facebook unless one of the things is to waste an hour. If you’re like me, you can easily get caught up in a chat conversation and forget what you needed to do.

Divide your friends into groups. When on Facebook chat, this can help you to avoid other procrastinators until you’ve finished your work.

It is common sense, but some of us need to be reminded: don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in person. It’s a waste of your time and doesn’t do anything for anyone.