My space, Twitter and Facebook are some of the popular social networking sites .They give the opportunity to create a personal profile and interact with other users through chat, applications, micro-blogging and sharing photos.
Almost every one, regardless of age, is plugged into one or two of these social networking sites. Post Offices are empty because letters and stamps are replaced by inboxes and emails. The networks affect also the work place of the users.
“Social Networks are good but addictive which is terrible for the work environment. It affects productivity and leads to low in and output. Employees spend most of their time twittering, chatting and Facebooking instead of concentrating on their work. We want to block it here,” says Patrick Sibomana, IT Manager at Digital Opportunity Trust in Kigali.
But Sibomana remarks that social networking is a cost effective way of communication. One can stay updated and in touch with friends around the world at a relatively low cost.
It can also be useful for studies.
“We had an unannounced test while in my third year at University. Most of us were not prepared. We complained but the lecturer insisted we had to do it.
One of the students posted the question on Facebook asking for help. Funny enough, she got crazy responses from fellow classmates who were writing the same test. The class kept on giggling and the lecturer had no idea why.
It was their little secret,” recalls Colleta Ingabire, (25), a Communications Assistant.
According to Ingabire, Social networks can be used for both the right and wrong reasons. Most people use them for communication, networking, keeping up-to-date, while others use them for stalking, bullying and mobilizing.
This form of technology has helped to organize riots and protests. This has simplified mobilization most recently in the Arab world where the people came out in masses to demand democracy and reforms.
“The social networks have boosted business here. We used to have few clients but when Facebook and Twitter became famous, the number of customers enormously increased.
Some of our clients can part with lots of money just to chat and twit all day,” Jean Paul Mushumba of Ikaze Internet café in Kisementi.
The changes brought about by social networks are countless. Some are pleasant while others are not. We have the power to let them influence us positively or otherwise.