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How often is it that we walk into a room full of people that are oblivious to the presence of a crowd around them? With their eyes glued to the screen of a smartphone, the scene is starkly different from about a decade ago when personal interactions were mostly face to face. Social media was the whirlwind that eroded social boundaries, rather rendered it an illusion. The confluence of social media with the advancement in technology triggered the magnitude of effects that it has had. I made my acquaintance with social media in my early teens and the prospect of being perpetually connected to the world around me left me astonished. The reach of this new revolution was unfathomable, to say the least. Upon obtaining a broad perspective on the repercussion of social media, we can discern that it has had a bearing mostly on our psychology and social lives.
Acknowledgement from society has transcended the realm of friends and acquaintances and transient appreciation from virtual people has gained prominence. Every now and then, people are crass when it comes to the value of their lives resorting to dangerous stunts, discounting the love of their kin for a few likes and shares from strangers. Revelling in public light is now grossly overrated, thanks to social media. There is an inherent pressure to broadcast your life in a particular manner to the world and there is no sense of restraint. The concept of privacy has been tossed out of the window and content that most definitely must not be in public eye is strewn about carelessly. People are unheeding of a permanent digital footprint that cannot be erased which could very well haunt them in the future. With the advent of the social media revolution came the compulsive need to maintain a public image. We mindlessly document our lives instead of living it. We watch the perfect sunset through the lens of our camera phones in pursuit of a social media worthy picture thereby missing out on the actual experience.
We belittle the sense of fulfilment in holding hands with a loved one and prefer holding our camera phones, constantly updating the world about the incidences of our daily lives. A penny wise and pound foolish scenario, isn’t it? While face to face interactions demand emotional involvement, dealing through a screen would only dictate cognitive impulses. This invariably has an impact on emotional intelligence forcing people to indulge further thereby imposing a vicious cycle rendering them socially distant. In a non-verbal conversation, the ways to feed off another person’s emotions and intentions are limited thereby debilitating the very foundation of human interactions. While social media accounts and messages can reflect a contented and cheerful outlook, only a man to man interaction can unveil turmoil, if any. A blogger that I closely followed, handled an account that depicted the most buoyant and vibrant life. The news of her succumbing to depression took all her followers by surprise because even her last post did not have a hint of the mayhem in her life. Personally, there have been times when the willpower to surf has superseded sheer exhaustion in an attempt to escape the daily grind. Though this is logically flawed, such is the power of this medium. The maintenance of a public image is now vital for the existence a social life. This time-consuming pursuit is an impediment to any intention to get some physical activity in a sense.
Every morning I bring myself to a sense of semi-awakeness scrolling through my newsfeed for new posts from “friends” and “followers” misspending the first few minutes of my day. Among the most visible consequences is the dismissal of the standing of newspapers. Squabbles to read the newspaper in the morning has become a thing of the past, for, the happenings of the world are at one’s disposal through a screen and on the go. Printed books are losing its sheen thanks to digital versions that are not only easy to carry but also avoid occupancy of spaces to store volumes. Social media has made people in place of eminence more accessible. We can demand redressal of a certain policy or public issue without having to hustle for an appointment with the person. Any cause can gain momentum without causing unrest and loss of productivity which I believe is very effective. We no longer have to go on a rally or protest to convey our displeasure to politicians, bringing in a sense of accountability. Crowd-funding can help people looking for financial aid to pay medical bills of their kin and even those that are trying to kick-start a business idea. It is uniting the society in every sense of the word. If social media is a boon or bane is subjective to each digital native’s perspective and extent of use. This media enables every kind of information to be within the reach of each user and it will boil down to each person’s ability to build character and explore various facets of their lives. After all, every coin has two faces.
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