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Social networking on level with drugs

If you ask me, the Internet is like a drug — it can be both used and abused. Unfortunately, social networking sites, on which college students spend a good chunk of their time, are among the worst breeding grounds of addiction. Each one of these sites has its psychedelic counterpoint, and none should ever be used to excess.

Facebook is like marijuana: it has millions of users and it robs the attention span.

In terms of popularity and casual usage, there is no better comparison. On April 8, Facebook officially reported having more than 200 million users. Likewise, marijuana is the most frequently used illegal drug in the United States, according to the Washington Post.

One is depicted in graffiti, the other uses a less literal form of wall-writing. Both are used by desperate parents to try to relate to their kids. Both are used as a scapegoat for childhood obesity and laziness. They are even both considered “gateways” to more dangerous things, like freebasing crack — or tweeting.

Myspace is like cocaine. It used to be popular, but now it’s used mostly by musicians. Users used to get a great rush when they excitedly sat down at their desk, ready to do some lines of HTML for their profile page.

What was once a fun way to connect with friends and rebel a little is now too intense and even frightening to consider. Just take a look at the homepage. The first thing you see is an ad which says “poke, kiss, hug, own and sell your friends. Take your friendship to the next level.” Yikes!

Blogspot is like alcohol, the classic vice. Users of both can vent daily frustrations,
whether to uninterested bartenders or uninterested Web surfers. The confidence a blogger nerd feels behind a computer screen is the same as what a timid bachelor feels after a couple of beers. It allows them to rant, rave and be obnoxious without fear of consequence. Daily bloggers are like heavy drinkers — they just vomit words instead of Cuervo and onion rings.

In all seriousness, social networking is getting out of control. College students’ psychological need for the Web is absurd, especially when they are at the point in their lives when they should be casting aside childish online gossip and thinking about how they are going to survive in the real world.

And newsflash, tweeters: Unless you monitor your accounts and what you are saying with the eyes of a hawk, future employers will see what you put on the Internet and form an opinion about you based on that information. If you’re posting every bit of your life on the Web, and that life happens to include, say, a lot of partying, Facebook could be as detrimental to your career as a drug record.

Unfair, you say? That’s not your call. This is how the real world works, and you’re probably four years away from it at the very most. So do yourself a favor: If you want to succeed, kick the habit and get off of social networking sites. Life goes on better without them.

Joe Polito is a freshman majoring in mass communications.