With the dawn of a new era of technology and innovation, arguably one of the most important innovations has been that of social media. Social media can be roughly described as a networking cycle created to allow free communication, amongst humans, over a common platform to express their unique beliefs and ideas. With the growth of number of users to an exponential number, a large segment of the social calendar is divided in its opinion regarding social media, one believing that it has caused them to remain hopelessly glued to screens; while the others believe that it has revolutionized the world.
At its best, social media is an opportunity like no other. Humans sitting thousands of miles away can engage in collective debate and discussion about common interests as they impart varying opinions about things unanimously dear to all of them. Social Media has knit the world into a global village and distances have become merely numbers. It has morphed into a unique base for start-ups as more and more people continue to actively earn an earnest livelihood through it. Social media is a means through which a person can present their message, their vision before the world, without any distinction of social echelon. These occurrences would have been inconceivable at the turn of the 19th century, when there was no such thing as social media.
Another ambiguously unique aspect of social media is that, at the end of the day, it’s essentially a reflection of what we are. It amplifies that which is inside us and projects it before our very eyes, to be accessed and interacted with. This aspect is ambiguous because there’s a very real chance of it swinging either way; having an equal chance of leading us down twisted and dark paths or the virtuous path so few tread. Amy Jo Martin once said:
“Social media is the ultimate equalizer. It gives a voice and platform to anyone willing to engage.”
Looking at the other face of the coin it also seems that social media, however, has a tendency to draw the worst of humanity as it has become emblematic of vanity. Amidst a world of digital insanity, people have forsaken their pursuits of individuality; focusing merely on uploading more and more pictures and statuses as a means to garner likes and shares. What this has essentially done is that it has extradited a person’s self-worth and self-esteem from themselves and laid it bare before others to pass judgement on. This has created a web of lies in which people are constantly forced to present an illusion of the reality in which they are bound to perform a role of someone they can only think of being and thus spend the remainder of their lives living up to being that person rather than what they truly are and can be. People claim to be connecting to others over long distances while they become more and more disconnected with the reality around them. Relationships continue to lose all meaning and humans are being stripped of organic emotions causing an emotional-amnesia as they continue to fall deeper and deeper into this endless web of lies netted by their own very hands. With the way things are heading, it wouldn’t be a surprise if, in a few years, anything distantly resembling real human emotions will be replaced by emojis and abbreviations .
Cyber-bullying also continues to get more and more prevalent as masochist, sexual predators and trolls continue to prowl vigorously for their next target. Everything from friendships to relationships exists solely as a means to create a facade in which real emotions are impossible to pick out. Social Media has birthed a whole separate world of conceit, ego-mania and ostentation in which bitterness and jealousy rule supreme. Anthony Carmona summarizes this perfectly in the following words:
“Social media websites are no longer performing an envisaged function of creating a positive communication link among friends, family and professionals. It is a veritable battleground, where insults fly from the human quiver, damaging lives, destroying self-esteem and a person’s sense of self-worth.”
William Shakespeare once said:
“There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
And so is the case with social media which has a seemingly infinite potential for good, countered by an equal potential for bad. We need to be more responsible and intelligent in our use of social media so that we do not succumb to even one of its many misuses. It is by nature, neither good nor evil, but rather a battleground where good and evil have an equal tendency to overwhelm. To keep the scales tipped on the nobler side, we need to make good use of it by our own hands. For, in my opinion, anything is as good or bad as we are because a knife can be used to stab someone to their excruciating death or it can also be used to evenly spread some delicious butter on a toast.
Written by: Hassaan Arshad