In today’s world, social media plays a vital role in every aspect of our day-to-day lives. From posting pictures of our holidays to tweeting about global issues, nothing is out of reach with social media. With its far-reaching and widespread audience, social media has the ability and the power to change and influence lives. But with great power comes great responsibility. In the case of social media, there is power, but there is no responsibility. Which is why it is so easy for a person to post mean comments on your YouTube videos or for a troll to Photoshop your pictures from Instagram. This lack of responsibility is also why close to 10 innocent people lost their lives in 6 different states in India due to a fake WhatsApp rumour about child kidnappings in 2018.
Everyday news is replete with the failures of social media. Viral videos of people committing silly mistakes can haunt them for the rest of their lives, be it an average, normal person or a celebrity. The backlash that one can face for sharing his or her political opinions can be life-threatening. Fake news can easily be manufactured to negatively influence people. Media trials have especially gained traction and importance through social media. Countless people have been defamed at the hands of a larger audience who deemed an innocent guilty without considering all the facts of the case. Social media has not just failed individuals, it has failed our entire social structure.
How many people are guilty of sharing random clips or maintaining Snapchat streaks instead of having a real conversation with our friends and families? Face-to-face communication has become a problem for many people, especially the younger generation. The direct hurtful remarks pose a smaller problem when compared to the subtle games which social media plays on the psychology of its users. Everyone posts their ‘best life’ on these apps in order to seek validation from their friends. Sooner or later they start comparing and competing with these very friends as to who has a happier and better life. This turns to a vicious cycle of validation and comparison which dictates people’s lives. This feeling creates a sense of isolation and self-doubt which can lead to the severe issues of stress, anxiety, depression, and low self-confidence.
With the limited pros that social media has produced, its cons are endless. We must understand that (as popularly remarked) social media is more about psychology and sociology than technology. Therefore, greater emphasis and improvement is needed on those aspects of it.
The advancement of technology is praiseworthy but not when it comes at the price of humanity.
By Shailja Kaushik
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