For someone who uses social media just to check on friends, news and trends, it is a boon. It was a joy to connect with my long-lost friends when Facebook arrived. I now have everyone from my school friends to my college friends to my family to school groups of my children to my office colleagues just a few clicks way. Any information can be sought in no time. Such a blessing!
I use social media to promote my blogs and it has been beneficial.
For my friends who are entrepreneurs, Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp have been saviors during the pandemic. These platforms provided a much-needed boost to their sales, by increasing the reach of their businesses to their customers.
Little did I realize the adverse effects of social media till I saw it affecting people around me. I will start with my kids. The addiction is unbelievable. “Just one more message Ma and I will be with you”, says my daughter and she won’t be seen or heard till I yell again after 10 minutes. My 8-year-old searches for Tiktok hacks on YouTube and follows Twitter updates for Robolox. When I express my displeasure, he looks as though I am a dinosaur and hence my inability to get the relevance of these platforms and his problems. “You need to understand why it is important Ma”, he says.
The constant clicking of selfies is another trifling habit to deal with. Overall, the whole bunch of these apps are such a waste of time. Before you know it, hours would have flown by and nothing achieved.
Thankfully, we detected this before it started consuming our kids’ lives. We are in the process of curtailing it. My hard-learnt advice to all parents, don’t give your kids phones and access to social media sites till they are 18, if possible, till 28.
A few years ago, I remember a colleague celebrating 100 likes on his profile picture on Facebook. It was a first for him!! To say I was shocked, is to put it mildly. I didn’t realize this was a statistic to be tracked.
The first thing Gen Z and beyond does is check the number of followers and likes for a channel or picture or news item. Only if it is high do they even deign to view the content. I keep wondering what if we were the first one to watch it? Doesn’t our opinion count?
I recommend watching the Netflix documentary Social Dilemma and Simon Sinek’s interview on Millennials in the Workplace to understand how the tech giants and technology are literally manipulating young minds and leaving them incapacitated to lead normal lives. A very dangerous situation for the world at large to be in, for it will destroy the fabric of society.
Sentiment manipulation is something social media makes easy. The 2016 US presidential elections are a classic example of this. Forget the US presidential elections. You will see it happening in your own school or community whatsapp groups. If there is a view you want the world to believe in, a few people can get together and bombard the group with the messages they want to propagate. Soon everyone will start believing it as true. Afterall, if it is out there it got to be true. As someone rightly said for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction plus a social media over reaction.
This is something one must be vary of. Verify the authenticity of the content. Else you will live in an echo chamber which makes you believe that the situation on hand is beyond repair. If there is a lot of negative news out there ensure you share/find the positive news too to strike the balance. We Indians especially never talk about the good things happening because it is expected behavior. Every time you read a negative news, remember that for every negative action, there will be 10 positive deeds that have not be sung.
Like every invention, social media has is it’s benefits and drawbacks. If it is used in a right manner, it will be benefit humankind at large, else it has the power the change the way the humans are wired. How we choose to use it will determine our evolution.