The recent controversy involving Mark Zuckerberg’s multi-billion dollar social platform about spilling of private information to vested parties, data leaks, dissemination of fake news and meddling at the top echelons of political gallery has once again brought to fore the perils of social media and the associate risks of over-indulgence in the virtual world.
The mushrooming popularity of social media in the last decade has given internet a boost with the average time being spent by the youth approximated to be around 1.72 hours on a daily basis. People are nose-diving in the murky waters of social networking without pausing to consider its long term consequences, in return for short time gratification.
This article is in no measure trying to discount the immense contribution of social media, especially in reducing disparity with regard to access of free, exhaustive and colossal information which is now available at one’s finger-tips. The gaps of learning are being bridged, quality of school assignments and projects improving and grades being uplifted.
Thousands of jobs are created every minute on the net and information about millions prospective job openings, job seekers and job recruiters, alternate forms of revenue generation through content-writing, blogging and pitching in market strategies via YouTube channels lend reverence to the potential of social media in transforming lives. Training and refreshers courses available online make it possible now to stay updated in sync with escalating demands in the job market.
The speed, ease and magnitude through which information is disseminated through social network make it a formidable tool in bringing about social and political changes.
Social relationships have been redefined with the advent of Orkut, Linked in, Twitter, Instagram and our very own, controversial yet so irresistible Facebook. Old friendships are dug out, new friendships forged and existing relationships cemented creating a parallel virtual society which unfortunately seems far more real and tangible now than the actual ones.
Paradoxically on one hand we seem to be getting more connected and on the other, we are degenerating into ineptitude and becoming more and more of social outcasts. The thrill of laying ourselves bare with abandon and liberty in the comfort of the virtual corridors makes us more and more vulnerable and exposed to crime, fraud and mental disorders.
Hacking, identity theft, phishing scams are commonplace occurrences happening with alarming frequency. Dissemination of rumours and fake information, sexting, child pornography, leaking of objectionable pictures, lurking of sexual predators are real life threats on the online platform.
Cyber-bullying, calling out names, body shaming, trolling, denigrating other people for their beliefs, faiths, different sexual preferences cause immeasurable emotional trauma leading to depression or even suicide.
Real life social interactions have been sacrificed at the altar of indulging in online pursuits with people preferring to stay hooked on to their devices rather than open their doors to actual neighbours. The internet is registering its presence in our boardrooms, living rooms, restaurant, cinema halls, even our bedrooms. The outcome of an entire generation being bred as narcissist beings and demanding instant gratification with poor social skills and suffering from ADHD.
Perceptions are formed even before an aspirant lands himself at the school, university or interview door on the basis of flood of information available otherwise on the net. Academic grades downslide, employee productivity slump in the wake of spending excessive time on the every addictive social platforms.
The lack of privacy is in itself the single most threatening feature of social media. Out liberated splurge of information is but waiting to be used against us by corporates or political meddlers.
Restraint and Caution are the keywords while wading in the murky cesspools of social media.