Situation 1: Upon meeting a renowned psychiatrist, the teen confesses that she can constantly hear notification sound of her phone but falls into depression after checking her phone. She was assuming it all along and no one had pinged her or commented on her social media posts.
Situation 2: A man posts live video feed of a shootout on social media platform. It not only contains graphic details but also contains evidence of the fact that certain extremist group is a mastermind of the entire massacre.
Situation 3: A youth goes live on social media to explain the reason behind taking his own life. He keeps the video feed on as he commits the act.
In the past few years, we have come across scores of incidents, matching the above-stated situations. Prior to the evolution of social media, the world neither resembled utopia, nor people suffered less psychologically from personal trauma. However, recurrence of such incidents clearly indicates that via social media sites, now people — especially teenagers and youths — have a more compelling way to seek emotional attention from others. And, a lot of users are ready to go down to any extent in order to gain such attention.
Yes, social media is the new drug that can blur the gap between real and virtual.
Social Media: Aspiration vs. Becoming
In a lot of ways, the idea behind social media shares its allegiance with the idea of a global village and global citizenship. Through radio, television, newspapers, and telephones made people aware about different cultures and socio-economic conditions purely through information and statistics, these mediums could not offer direct access to the personal lives of each other. The internet and the use of social media helped people overcome this limitation. Today individuals, provided they have social media accounts, are just a click away. Social media groups that are created on the basis of human aspirations, hobbies, fantasies or fetishes, make it even easier to connect with like-minded people.
Though social media websites and applications promote the philosophy of global networking, sociological studies reveal that their real-world impact runs deep in human psychology. It is true in the case of a lot of social media users that instead of quality interaction, they focus more on cultural trivia, self-bragging, and comparing and contrasting their respective sociological conditions with others. This leads to chronic depression and a sense of isolation, especially in situations, where they feel they are not receiving an adequate response from fellow users.
Despite these ills, social media has a lot of benefits to offer.
Social Media Pros
- Sharing Information In Real-Time: Facebook Newsfeed and Twitter are the most powerful sources of real-time news. Be it a political event, terror attack or natural calamity – people who love to stay updated, do not have to wait for the next news broadcast or newspaper next morning.
- Professional Networking: You have specific skill sets in overcoming certain professional challenges. A company in another part of the globe is searching for someone with the exact skill sets you possess. Both are on LinkedIn. Boom! Your chance of getting selected for the dream job just escalated.
- Promotion: Planning to launch a new product or a new brand? No need to schedule a press conference. Create a small, engaging advertisement and post it in your social media profile. It won’t take long to go viral, provided your offering addresses customers’ needs.
But, can the social media boons outsmart the curses? It’s time that we attempt an evaluation.
Social Media Cons
- Productivity Goes Down: All play and no work can also make Jack a dull boy. Prolonged social media engagement negatively impacts employees’ attention. They can be easily diverted, which may lead to severe productivity decline at the organizational level.
- Irreparable Psychological Damage: A casually posted video or a photo of an individual may damage his/her reputation so deeply that he/she may never come out of it. Unfortunately, such practices are quite random among youngsters. The victim has to go through extensive counseling to get over the damage caused but not always such attempts are successful.
- Identity Theft: This is one of the most important areas of concern among cyber experts and social media users. Not all users are equally capable of balancing between their personal and virtual lives. Miscreants use these opportunities to create fake profiles using others personal details. Such incidents not only lead to maligning those persons but also leave a deep mark on their social existence.
By demonstrating more responsible behavior towards information sharing, users of social networking sites can eradicate the aforesaid ills. The young generation needs to be educated about striking the right balance between social and personal life. It is a matter of collective responsibility that we all must proactively try and fulfill, rather than being apathetic.