Social Media has surprised the world, both in terms of its unbridled power as well as its virtual nature that takes it beyond anyone’s control and dictates. It has become an average Indian’s obsession, pride and part of life style today. No doubt, social media has big impact directly on all those who are part of it, and indirectly even on others. Social media and its networks have revolutionised the way the young people think, act, communicate and relate with one another globally, nationally and locally. Its impact on today’s youth is definitely huge, though almost impossible to measure its gravity.
It is worth mentioning that the first generation of kids and teens are growing up with social media as an integral part of their life. It is drastically changing how they interact with peers and parents, and how they use technology. On the one hand, the advent of social media and networking sites has opened up the sky in front of everyone with its mesmerising effects; on the other hand, it has opened up the Pandora’s Box, which is filled with fear and filth.
In India, the number of social media users is skyrocketing. In itself it’s a good sign; it may be considered as a sign of the upward mobility, adaptability, and progress of our people, especially the young Indians, who always long to be associated with anything that has the tag of ‘super’ and ‘excellent’. Think of the enormous amount of data we can avail of for enhancing any aspect of our mind, body and soul – whether for knowledge, entertainment, life style or even spiritual nourishment. The booming social media is undoubtedly a boon here. On the other hand, think of the possible danger and risks that are hidden in the virtual world of social media. Its effects can be nothing less than disastrous for the kids and teens, considering the damages even the adults go through. Here social media is doom.
These dual faces of social media should teach everyone to tread confidently but cautiously into the apparently beautiful but little known virtual world. Self discipline and prudence are the two weapons everyone needs to carry during their escapades into this world. The kids and teens, who are likely to jump into without a second thought, need to be properly guided and monitored by parents, teachers and other responsible elders. There is a problem when the parents, teachers and other elders are naïve or ignorant of the world of social media.
The second point is the raging topic of ‘net neutrality’. ‘Network Neutrality’ is the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites. However, the Indian government is proposing some changes in the telecom policy, based on the request of telecom companies and to favour their business interests. If that comes true, it will severely affect the freedom of internet users to choose the service provider of their choice, and they may have to pay for any use of internet as willed by telecom companies. That would be tantamount to killing net neutrality and undermining freedom, equality and transparency, which are the basic characteristics of internet. Everyone, especially the youth, need to be aware of these developments and stand united for net neutrality.
The social media is going to stay here for long. So is the young generation which will depend so much on the social media. Use them well – responsibly, diligently and judiciously – and never misuse them. Develop a discipline in the use of them so that you would remain the master and controller, lest you would be controlled and enslaved by the social media. Have more concern for the people around you than for those unknown people who appear only on your mobile or computer screens. While being connected with the online world, be rooted in your surroundings. Above all, love this world much more than you long to love the virtual world. Good Wishes.
Dr. Jacob Kani