Effects of living in the age of social media


Shiva Bhusal

Shiva Bhusal and Shiva Bhusal

Social media allows negativity to spread in the form of trolls and hoaxes among millions of people at a rampant pace. Conversely, it can serve as a simple and effective medium to fight against racism, dictatorship, injustice, inequality and violence. Historically, the traditional mass media has been the main source of information. With the emergence of social media, everyone around the world with access to the internet has a common platform to express their views and opinions. The source of information is no longer limited to traditional mass media.

Considering the ease, effectiveness and immense potential of social media, it is not surprising to me that the heads of state of most countries are very active on social media. But, in my opinion, no other heads of state in the world use it in more of a direct and undiplomatic manner than President Trump.

I respect his freedom of expression, but some of his tweets and Facebook posts seem utterly childish and inconsiderate to me. One such example is his recent controversial tweet targeted at few underdeveloped countries. The highly criticized tweet was something diplomacy would not usually expect from the president of a great country.

For the elite — the politicians, the leaders and the celebrities — social media serves as a big marketing tool. For common people, it is typically a form of information consumption. The views and opinions of the people we follow on social media have a big impact on our understanding of the world. In this context, the people who boast millions of followers have an additional responsibility to make sure they are honest and respectful to others.

Once one gets engaged in social media, the engagement becomes an obsession. The reason behind such obsession is information hunger — the want to know what others are doing, what is going on in the world and the desire to share with the world one’s views, opinions and even daily activities. Borrowing the words of Mark Griffiths, a researcher on social media at Nottingham Trent University, social media obsession is the pursuit of “social compensation” for the introverts and “social enhancement” for the extroverts.

It is debatable whether the excessive use of social media hinders or enhances the growth of a person, but it is certain that one can’t discard social media from their life.

The propaganda, thoughts and opinions expressed in social media are none other than the reflection of the consciousness of our own society. In social media, it is easy to get carried away with your thoughts as the consequences of your action in the virtual world are seen in real life only after a certain period.

The opinions expressed are raw, honest and diverse, and it is very easy for anyone to fall into controversy and sound disrespectful. A bad idea on social media spreads faster than a good one.

Social media is full of pros and cons, and it is certainly not a panacea to worldly problems. But in the modern-day world where mass media is often crippled with censorship, bias and monotone deliveries, it has immense potential in shaping the political and social consciousness of people.