” Social media is addictive precisely because it gives us something which the real world lacks: it gives us immediacy, direction and value as an individual.” – David Amerland.
It would be oxymoronically hilarious if I start my argument highlighting the adverse effects of social media, despite being aware of the journey this article would be enduring in the same domains of social media right from selecting its topic. So, for those of us who only see its invention as the biggest curse of humanity in its history, the question to ponder is, “Is it the social media which is bad or it’s the addiction of same?”. Therefore, it appeared more important to discuss the positive aspects of social media and how we are witnessing probably the most significant transformation of human history within our lifetime. Irrespective of which race, gender, age, nationality, profession or part of the world we belong to; how do we find out about a new question that life has thrown at us; at least 90% of us would say ‘Google’. In most cases, the primary source of information pertaining to any news, advertisement, sports, education, fashion, or even new recipe would be the platform such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, WhatsApp or Google.To begin with, it all started with the basic human quest to connect with people, being a social animal that has been the primary fibre around which all the social structures are created. And if we look back at history, two humans sitting across oceans were so close that they could see what their friend was doing in real-time or join him effortlessly in joy and sorrow. Most of us must have seen Mr Anand Mahindra posting videos of common people from small villages or towns who have created something unique with minimum resources, be it a milkman creating a four-wheeler out of junk or someone converting his bicycle into a battery-run e-cycle. But, these simple people can’t imagine to figure on the smallest corner of a mainstream newspaper when there were no social media. From whistleblowers who want to report something wrong to someone who is seeking help for a road accident, from a student who is looking for an answer for his exam preparation to a son who want to share the news of getting a job with his parents, from a fauji who is sitting in 30 feet of snow and wants to see the face of his newly born child to a kashmiri youngster who wants to be an ‘Agniveer’ and seek details of registration, from any company which has launched a new product to a politician who is campaigning for upcoming elections, be it a commoner or a multinational corporation, there is a common destination for everyone: to seek or spread information. The most phenomenal aspect of social media as an invention is; unlike other transformational innovations in the past like TV, Telephone, cars or other such technologies, the availability of social media is not restricted by wealth, class or stature in society. A rickshaw puller has the same type of Twitter account as Anand Mahindra, with equal information excess. And that prospect of equality with the higher class has made it attractive and addictive amongst the common people. Of course, there are negative effects of social media, just like every other invention in the past, and some of those could not even be attributed to over usage. Spread of misinformation, financial fraud, privacy infringement, misguiding influencing public opinion and info overflow leading to psychological stress are some of the serious effects.The debate between pros and cons is eternal, but the bigger question remains, ‘Is there a way back? The wiser question would be, ‘How can the way forward be made better? In today’s world, social media is as essential to our lives as electricity or fire because today, millions of people have their livelihoods based on it. Therefore, it is a reality of our lives that we can either curse or use to our advantage this boon of social media so as to keep pace with the ever-evolving world, ‘The choice is ours.