Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 4, Issue 46, Tuesday November 27, 2007




Building a social network
on the Internet

Its amazing how people's life and their expectations from the world around them change with time. When I first started using the internet in the late 1990's, I was a newcomer to the ‘world wide web.’ I didn't know much about the internet then, and all that I wanted was an account from where I could exchange emails with friends and family. During the first days of my introduction to the internet, I was amazed at every little thing I saw there. Sending mails in the blink of an eye was nothing less engrossing than David Copperfield's magic! But emails soon turned into a normal everyday experience and I knew I had started looking for something more mind-blowing- probably something that would deliver instant replies to my messages…

Very soon I learned about this cyber social network application called mIRC, where hundreds and thousands of people came together to chat with each other. I was amazed once again, but this time to a higher degree. We made local and international friends on mIRC. It was the first time when I realized that the world was actually getting smaller and smaller mIRC had visitors from all over the world. mIRC was like a mini-world.

But the frenzy over mIRC wore off in another one or two years. Maybe it was because mIRC wasn't adding new features or taking on a more modern look or maybe because it was too open. Luckily, more personalized MSN and Yahoo! instant messengers had come into the scene by that time.

MSN remained my sole favourite online application for years in a row. In 2005, I was introduced to a rather interesting social networking site called Hi5, where users could create an online profile in order to show information such as interests, age and hometown and upload user pictures where other users could post comments. Hi5 was certainly more advanced and detailed in nature. Anyone who wanted an online presence could open an account there. I too created my own profile but couldn't get myself hooked to it. The reason? It didn't have “that” appeal to keep users fascinated for long a user couldn't do a lot of things on Hi5. I wasn't certainly looking for a place where I could only post my personal details and pictures. Privacy was an issue as well.

Months went by before a friend sent me the first Facebook (FB) request sometime in the beginning of this year. It was the first time I had heard about Facebook and I wasn't at all interested in opening an account there. I thought it would be just like another Orkut or Hi5, both of which failed to retain my attention. Requests after requests started pouring into my email accounts and I felt that there must be something about this so-called “book for faces.” I created an account and discovered that the whole thing was a mess, a big mess. There were too many things to do and I didn't even know how to do most of them. My friends wrote on my wall, and I couldn't figure out the way to write them back- I ended writing the replies on my own wall! Funny, it was.

However, the layout of FB is one-of-its-kind; it's neat and classy. Facebook is a wonderful thing that fulfills almost anything that a user may want from a social networking site. It has walls where you can post messages, pictures and even videos; the Home page publishes the recent activities of your friends along with upcoming birthdays, new friend requests, notifications if a person has made a comment on your photo, wrote on your walls, sent you a gift etc. In a matter of a few months the number of people in my friend's list crossed 150! This is a huge number for a not-very-social person as I am. FB has also helped me re-establish contact with some of my childhood buddies I thought I would never find them again. But the best part of FB is that you can maintain your privacy there. You can create a limited profile for those who are not your very good friends and limit their access to your wall posts and photo albums and other things you consider personal. This is definitely one of the biggest benefits of having a FB account- it keeps you in close contact with your friends but at the same time allows you to have your own little space. FB has won my trust to the extent that I, for the first time, have uploaded my pictures and personal details in a public domain.

TIME magazine recently published an article on Facebook where it said that this particular social networking site is more popular than the pornographic websites. It was a very interesting piece, for FB is actually bringing about a positive change in the minds of the people, young and old alike. And it's all good if FB helps remove some filth from the world around us.

Young people are actually making innovative use of this networking site. A few weeks back I received a friend's wedding invitation through FB! She created a calendar with details like time and venue of her reception and sent it to all her friends. She even uploaded a scanned copy of her wedding card. It's just another example of how much the virtual world influences our daily life.

Question may arise as to why people want a virtual identity. People's need for social networking over the internet is certainly an issue subject to study. I personally feel that breakthroughs in communications technology have brought people closer to each other.

The friend circle of a teenager can these days easily accommodate one hundred people! Friendship is a relationship that needs to be cherished through regular contact. But for a person with more than a hundred friends, this is literally impossible.

What Facebook has done is that it has made communication with friends much much easier than before. You don't feel that your friend lives 3000 miles away when you see her pictures regularly.

Today you can't even forget a friends' birthday because FB won't let you do so. Gone are the days when we didn't believe in having too many friends. Today the longer your friends list is, the more sociable you are as a person. FB, in short, has changed the way we looked at the world around us.

By Wara Karim

Cold cures

Be positive. A positive attitude about your body's ability to heal itself can actually mobilize immune system forces. Practice imagery techniques to combat colds. After bringing yourself into a deeply relaxed state, imagine a white tornado decongesting your stuffed-up sinuses or an army of microscopic maids cleaning up germs with buckets of disinfectant!

Rest and relax. Extra rest enables you to put all your energy into getting well. It can also help you avoid complications like bronchitis and pneumonia. Take a day or two off from work if you're feeling really bad. At the very least, slow down in your everyday activities and reschedule your time. Trying to keep up with your regular routine can be draining because when you're not feeling well, your concentration is down and you'll probably need to double the amount of time it's going to take you to do things.

Turn out the party lights. When you're sick, parties and other good times can wear you out physically, compromising your immune system and causing your cold to linger. Let the good times roll right on by until you feel better.

Warm up. Keep bundled up against the cold. This keep your immune system cozily focused on fighting your cold infection instead of displacing energy to protect you from the cold.

Take a walk. Mild exercise improves your circulation, helping your immune system circulate infection-fighting antibodies. Take a brisk half-hour walk. But refrain from strenuous exercise, which could wear you out.

Feed a cold lightly. The very fact that you have a cold in the first place may point to your eating “too congesting a diet” that puts a strain on your body's metabolism. Counteract it by eating fewer fatty foods, meat and milk products, and more fresh fruit and vegetables.


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