Does using Facebook cause you to spend money you don’t have and to pig out on junk food?
As far-fetched as that might sound, a pair of U.S. marketing professors say they have found a relationship between time spent on Facebook and lower credit scores, higher credit card debt and bigger waistlines. The authors say their work is the first study of its kind to link Facebook to personal financial habits.
The research is among a growing number of studies that are seeking to explain how the use of Facebook and other new technologies is shaping our lives, for better and worse, in areas as diverse as social and civic interactions, commerce and psychological well-being. This month, Facebook said it surpassed 1 billion active users worldwide. About half of U.S. adults say they use at least one social networking site — twice that of just four years ago.
The researchers, Keith Wilcox of Columbia Business School and Andrew Stephen of the University of Pittsburgh’s business school, are not suggesting that people log onto Facebook and then, zombie-like, gorge themselves on debt and Twinkies. Instead, they say, the effects are subtle and cumulative.
The effects are most pronounced, they say, on Facebook users who have strong ties to their online friends. They say the process works like this: People browse through their social network of close friends. Participating in that supportive online community boosts their self-esteem. That brief increase in self-esteem reduces self-control.
A 16-year-old girl with cerebral palsy weighed only 23lbs and could not walk or talk when she was removed from her family home after being starved by her mother.
Darlene Armstrong measured just 3’10’’ tall when she was rushed to hospital in Chicago in March.
The severely disabled girl could have been rescued four months earlier if the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) had followed set procedures, an investigation by the Chicago Tribune revealed.
Darlene’s mother, Rosetta Harris, 50, pleaded guilty to endangering the life of a child.
The mother, who had no prior criminal record, was sentenced to 18 months of probation and ordered to undergo parenting classes.
Doctors at the Comer Children’s hospital said the girl, now 17, had been starved for a considerable period of time.
When Darlene was brought to hospital she weighed only 23 lbs – just over one and a half stone – the typical weight of a two or three-year-old child.
A shocking photo of Darlene in hospital shortly after she was rescued was leaked to the press by law enforcement officials, as an investigation was launched into how the social services dealt with the case.
Hospital officials did not believe the mother’s story that she fed her daughter eggs and grits for breakfast, steamed rice and chicken, chocolate protein drinks and snacks throughout the day.
On November 17 DCFS received an anonymous emergency call that Darlene Armstrong was not being fed and had not seen a doctor in ‘many years
Under the agency’s rules an investigator needs to respond to an emergency call within 24 hours, and, if they do not see the child on the first visit, they are expected to return every day until they see them.
An investigation by the Chicago Tribune revealed that an investigator into the case walked away from Darlene’s home on three occasions without seeing the 16-year-old.
Although an investigator went to the home within the required 24 hours after receiving the hot-line call she left after Harris’ brother said the mother and daughter were not at home. The social worker left her contact details at the home.
Setting this aside, even within the legal ambit of the GDQ, TEHELKA’s investigation shows that many of the allotments in Karunanidhi’s tenure have violated the rule book. Many bureaucrats and their relatives have been given plots or flats under the category of “social worker”. Some of these last did social work when they were in college; many of them claim to be volunteers in such routine activity as helping in blood donation or eye camps. Many have issued certificates to themselves; some have acquired letters from the Lions and Rotary Clubs with vague endorsements. In other violations, the rules say that no one who has any other land or property in Tamil Nadu or any other capital city, in either their own or spouse or minor children’s name, can apply for GDQ allotments. TEHELKA found this is routinely violated.
The other brazen violation lies in the claim of “unblemished” service records as a qualification for allotment. When RTI activist V Gopalakrishnan sought a list of such bureaucrats, Additional Secretary S Solomon Raj said, “As no unblemished government servant certificates are issued, the question of furnishing a list of names does not arise.” The additional secretary also clarified that the home department didn’t have such a list. This is the phantom category under which many public servants like Jaffar Sait, 1986 batch IPS officer, now Inspector General of Police–Intelligence, got large allotments of land in prime locations. Why them more than hundreds of others? That’s a democratic question the chief minister will have to answer.
Ganeshan is a trade union leader with the DMK and is close to Karunanidhi. He owns property in his as well as his wife’s name.
Brinda Nedunchezhiyan Wife of late Chezhiyan and daughter-in-law of Agriculture Minister Veerapandi Arumugam
PLOT NO: HIG B 3/14, MOGAPPAIR DATE: 13 MARCH 2008
SIZE: NA PRICE: Rs. 9.82 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 45-50 LAKH
Allotted flat under Social worker category. The tehsildar of Salem issued her a certificate though he is not empowered to. The certificate says she “is a well-known social worker involved in social welfare activities such as president of Poolavari village panchayat, head of parent-teachers association, participating in educational programmes of many schools”.
Widow of Sivagangai politician Thennarasu
FLAT NOS: S7, THIRUVANMIYUR EXTN
DATE: 26 AUGUST 2008
SIZE: 3,879 SQ FT PRICE: Rs. 79.13 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs.3.75 CRORE
She was allotted the plot under the Social Worker category. An RTI application revealed that she had not been engaged in any kind of social work that would make her eligible for this category.
P Moorthy Madurai MLA
FLAT NOS: E2/6, MIG, MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 5 DECEMBER 2008
SIZE: NA PRICE: Rs. 72.5 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 4 CRORE
Allotted under the Social Worker category on a certificate issued by the Lions Club. Owns several plots in his and his wife’s name.
Daughter of Devaraj M, Private Secretary to the Chief Minister
FLAT NOS: 543, THIRUVANMIYUR, KAMARAJ NAGAR (PLOT ADJOINING SAIT’S AND SHANKAR’S)
DATE: 23 MAY 2008
SIZE: 4,466 SQ FT PRICE: Rs. 1.08 CRORE
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: NA
Allotted plot under the Social Worker category but there’s no evidence to back it. Constructing a three-storey building involving a cost beyond the family’s known sources of income. Her husband owns another property in his name. Her plot is adjacent to the plots of IGP-Intelligence Jaffar Sait and Durga Shankar, son of the CM’s secretary.
PLOT NO: B2/5, THIRUVANMIYUR EXTENSION DATE: 11 NOVEMBER 2009
SIZE: 3,117 SQ FT PRICE: Rs. 68.54 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 3.2 CRORE
Close relative of DMK supremo Karunanidhi and the Chairman of the School Fee Determination Committee. Little wonder then he was also the recipient of special favours while he was still a serving judge. At the time of the allotment, the judge owned a 50 percent share in an ancestral house at Thiruveezhimizhalai village. The judge had also sold a property he owned at Pazhavatthankattali village near Kumbakonam. The land was purchased in 1991, a house was constructed on it in 1992 and sold in 2009. He had also sold the landed property of his wife in 2009.
Reactions of allottes.
D Yashoda, Congress MLA, Kancheepuram
“I have done a lot of work for Dalits throughout Tamil Nadu, especially in Sriperumbudur and Chennai. I have helped them in getting pattas for their land, recommending their names for loans from banks, distributing cycles to Dalits on the birthdays of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.”
Jaffar Sait, IPS, IG-Intelligence
“Government agencies have already probed the matter. I am being governed by the conduct rules, so I should not talk to you about the issue. It is advisable that you seek a response from the Tamil Nadu government. I would like to add that if any defamation or liability arises out of your article, necessary legal action would be taken.”
P Moorthy, Madurai MLA
“I don’t know much about the certificate, I think I got the plot because I’m an MLA. I have done a lot of work in uplifting the people in villages of my constituency. That amounts to social work. I don’t need a social work certificate from the Lions Club but my friends, partners and I took the certificate anyway. ”
In a frank chat, Umashanker talks about how the government discretionary quota has been misused. Excerpts:
Why are bureaucrats, judges, former judges and politicians given housing plots in posh localities under government discretionary quota?
Who can refuse a good piece of land in Chennai city? It’s a way of rewarding people for good work done. No inquiry has been conducted in this matter so far. Discretionary quota is the prerogative of the government. After RTI came into existence, several activists are taking up the matter in court. Basically, there is no control mechanism or checks and balances. There is little transparency while awarding the GDQ — the plots are allotted without formal applications.
You were also allotted a plot in 2008 under the ‘unblemished government servant’ category. What happened to the allotment?
Yes, I was allotted a plot in Thiruvanmiyur Extension. Initial payment for the plot was Rs. 25 lakh. I never had that much money. So I requested the government to reduce the price. But there was no response. I did not want a house to compromise my integrity. So I never took possession. Later, in 2009, the government ordered a vigilance inquiry against me and cancelled the allotment. Frankly, I was not aware about the TNHB rules that bars a person having a plot, a flat or a house from claiming another plot.
Do you think the GDQ quota is a way of silencing people, buying them out?
Yes, it is a way of making you a part of the syndicate. Plots or flats are given to those civil servants, judges or relatives of the bureaucrats or politicians for complying with certain requirements. There is no procedure for IAS or IPS officers to get a land or plot or flat in a transparent manner. So everybody uses short cuts.