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Social media network sites like Facebook, Twitter and Myspace have been blamed for extramarital affairs and broken marriages. This phenomenon is not only seen in Malaysia, it is all over the world where internet is accessible. So for any organisation or government for that matter to intervene or try to set up any support mechanisms to attempt to reduce the negative social consequences of this unrestricted human interactions is praiseworthy but they must be ready for the long haul.

It makes me smile this morning when I read in the news that some woman representative in one Malaysian state has come up with the following tips for affected couples in counselling:

> Setting parameters on time spent online, such as not going online after 9pm;

> Sharing passwords with spouses and letting them check their partner’s online accounts;

> Discouraging couples from engaging in intimate online conversation with others; and

> Setting appropriate privacy filters/details on social media.

In fact it was ROTFL! for me especially for the second proposed tip. Who in their right mind would want to share their passwords! We are not children.

I think rather than focussing on affected people, a late kind of interventional approach, we need to advocate among young people, those who are yet to get married, responsible use of the internet. An awareness needs to be inculcated that there is a whole lot of jungle out there and one has to exercise caution and good judgement.You can visit any site and see all sorts of things so culturally foreign to you but if you can fall back on your learned principles I think you can interact with anyone or anything without jeopardizing your life and that of your loved ones.

The problem arises when people are so confined within themselves, their families or their limited social group that when they discover a whole new world of social freedom before them, they go “ga ga”. We have heard of men and women falling in love with “photos” posted on the internet and have gone to the extent of emptying their bank account in pursuit of their heart desires only to be cheated and left high and dry. Many of these victims are educated. These are the people who are internet-savvy but have chosen to think with their feet.

Lonely wives and unsatisfied husbands are more likely to try to find people who listen to them. It happens before the advent of the internet but the latter makes it much easier to connect with others. Yes it is so easy when I look at my friends’ Facebook pages, Jesus each one of them has more than 200 “friends” with photos ready to be oogled at. What stops anyone from contacting someone they like and depending on the other person’s intention, you could be friends in a jiffy and start simple comments which later become flirtatious and so it starts.

Sometimes interacting with strangers may not be that bad as there are nice and genuine people on the net. As long as you know your boundaries and limitation and steer the interaction in positive directions, a little bit of flirting and commenting on each other could be therapeutic to people who are lonely or hurt in their existing relationship. The important thing is in accepting the reality of your situation. Unless you do, you won’t be able to move from your confused state of mind and that could lead to unwanted results.

Connecting people online anywhere,everywhere and beware

I have had people wanting to contact me on Facebook after I posted a rather nice photo which I later removed as I am not into befriending strangers who like a photo. Facebook is all about advertising, the more people joining it, the more revenues the company gets. Nothing is free in this world! The concept is simple,clever and convenient but the social spinoffs can be disastrous to those who are not able to handle this modern day necessary evil. I enjoy Facebook because I can share a lot of information with friends who normally would not bother looking for articles online. Sharing is the word. Unfortunately sometimes people share even their lives, wreck their marriages and break up their families.

Issues of children below 18 using the social media networks posting all sorts of pictures which could jeopardize their future careers have been hotly debated by concerned parents in many countries. On top of that you have child predators operating online causing awesome dangers to societies everywhere. It is very difficult to restrain,contain and control this evil and parents are advised to educate their children from the word “go” and don’t leave it too late lest you would be confronted by teenage rebellion, defeating the purpose of you trying to protect your child in the first place.

A friend’s unmarried daughter, Suzy has complained that the husband of her friend used his wife’s account and was on Friendster (another social network site) and was seen opening up his fly and masturbating, now how do you prevent that? According to Suzy the man is a respectable professional, so prim and proper on the exterior and yet becomes evil on the net. You do get all sorts, some appear normal but actually “sick” inside. Reminds me of a US governor who posted nude pictures of him to women and had to resign in shame and caused much distress to his pregnant wife.

Through social network sites I have found many long lost friends and people who are gracious in their willingness to help you with your questions/queries. They are the people who we would not be able to meet otherwise had those sites not existed to connect us.

Have a guideline when you surf the net by all means but ultimately you are the one who will make the necessary choice and please stop blaming the social network media.

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