Through Facebook, the world has become so small that conversations between people that live worlds apart have become possible.
Relationships have been started and others ended, organisations formed and others disbanded homes built and others destroyed, but the chats and posts continue to increase with every day that passes.
Politicians and political activists pour scorn on their opponents, citizens attack government officials, leisure users update their circle of friends, journalists share links to their latest stories and businesspersons sell their latest products. Facebook has surely become the place to be.
For some journalists, Facebook has suddenly become both a source of story tips and an interview platform. “My job has become much easier because I no longer have to travel to some of the people I need to interview,” says Johannesburg-based CAJ News journalist, Mthulisi Sibanda.
“There is also an economic advantage to it. It is cheaper to use Facebook instead of telephones for interviews. Chances of misquoting people are also minimised, as every response is written down and all I need to do is copy, paste, edit and paraphrase.”
Sibanda has also found the social network to be a source of follow-up stories to the ones he would have written or read somewhere. “There are times when you post a story and get people asking questions, thereby presenting ideas for follow-up stories. Getting public views on a hot topic has also become easier for me, as people can easily and speedily respond while I am doing other things on my computer.”
For musician Promise Sibanda, popularly known as DJ Mapressa, Facebook has provided a cost-effective marketing platform. “I use it to sell my music and increase the number of my fans,” says the Disco musician.
“Whenever I release a killer album, I post links to some of the best songs and have people asking where they can get them, thereby increasing both sales and my fan base. It has also become easier for me to reach out to my fans whenever I have a new project or a show lined-up. It takes just a few minutes and the number of my fans has more than doubled since I began to use Facebook for marketing.”
Nomusa Sidanile Moyo is grateful for the manner in which one day of socialising on Facebook changed her entire life.
“Through Facebook, I met someone who introduced me to Green World, a multi-level marketing company that deals with health and wealth issues. Using the same platform, I have in turn changed and continue to change many people’s lives as was done to me a few years ago,” she said.
For Botswana-based Walter Lunga, it is all about networking pleasure. “Every day I get in touch with more lively people who make my day. I hardly ever get lonely now, while I continue to learn many tips that have changed the way I approach various life situations.”
Nkosana Masotsha Ndlovu, a student in Johannesburg, said: “Facebook helped me further my studies and I am also now in touch with my long-lost friends. Facebook is now like a community to me. I also use it to get up-to-date news about my favourite team, Highlanders FC.”
Madoda Mabunda , also of Johannesburg commented: “I get the chance to tell the world how I feel about Robert Mugabe and his Zanu (PF). Facebook has given me the space and platform that most newspapers (apart from The Zimbabwean which has actively given a voice to the voiceless for the past 10 years) have denied me.”
Apart from impacting social, business and entertainment spheres, Facebook is also making an impression in the spiritual realm. Sinothando Nkala said the network had brought her closer to God in a way she had never envisaged. “Pastors from across the globe minister to me on this platform. In my lowest points in my life, when I could not even face a soul, I found words of encouragement on Facebook,” she said.
But there is a negative side to social networking and people need to be careful. Celebrities and other popular figures have fallen prey to vicious campaigns by mischievous people who create impostor accounts using their names and photographs and post pretending to be them.Post published in: News