Virtual socializing and social networking online

By Melissa Muhammad | Last updated: Mar 8, 2010 - 12:51:16 PM

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With the advent of technology a host of opportunities and dangers have opened up with the use of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo groups, Linkd In and other virtual communities that bring people together.

On Feb. 26 at the Rosemont Hotel, during the Nation of Islam's annual Saviours' Day convention, a group of experienced, talented and successful men  and women of faith came together to discuss the pitfalls and benefits associated with the use of social networks.

Among them were Alexander Muhammad, an IT administrator from London, England; Yvonka Muhammad who is also known as Chicago lyricist “19” and her blog is in the process of becoming a graphic novel, Houston-based writer and blogger Jesse Muhammad, Carlos Muhammad of the Luv 4 Self Network and Tariq Muhammad of the Friends of Farrakhan social network.

The purpose of the workshop as explained by coordinator Tariq Muhammad of Phoenix was to enlighten the believing community and the general public about the proper use of social networking sites.

Modern technology allows strangers to communicate openly and without hesitation, many believing that their identity is safely hidden behind a monitor and no harm can come to them. That is simply not true. Tariq Muhammad explained how young and old alike, have lost money, homes and suffered injury because of improper or careless use of the Internet.

The panelists shared stories of successful use of social networking and some of the downside for users. Alexander Muhammad shared the importance of maintaining security on the Internet generally and with social networking in particular. Just as we are taught that you must use virus protection for your computer, if you don't update it you are yet vulnerable to a new virus as it develops, he warned.

“It seems that when Muslims get on the internet they take their Muslim hats off,” said Alexander Muhammad. While efforts are made to prevent computers from failing due to viruses, precautions are thrown to the wayside when it comes to social networking use, said panelists.

While parents used to caution children with “don't talk to strangers,” in the age of Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites, the warning is falling on deaf ears of children and adults alike.

Social networks have become surrogates for communities with a failure to first develop personal relationships and then allowing a social network to be an extension of an already formed relationship, observed Alexander Muhammad.

Despite some risks associated with the improper use of the social networking, success is still to be had via the Internet. Jesse Muhammad talked to attendees about the leverage, branding, growth and revenue opportunities that social networking presents. He emphasized the need to have purposeful internet usage. “Corporations have a Facebook page, why? Because that is where the public is,” said Jesse Muhammad.

Yvonka Muhammad turned to social networking and blogging to get her artistry out to the public, using a broad reaching and fast tool. The Internet is also “where the youth are,” she said.

The panelists agreed that social networking is indeed the modern, efficient and effective way to communicate but it must be tempered with proper decorum, caution and purpose.