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The world could never have been noisier than what it is now. Take any subject, topic, event, idea, or thought, and you will find so many voices, it is well nigh impossible to discern who is saying what or who is right and who is not.
Politics is the name of polarization, which has grown like a monster. This is just a case in point, otherwise this space is politics-free. I mentioned it because more and more people are now aware and therefore polarized.
Social media fuels the frenzy. WhatsApp messages come in non-stop. If you happen to be in several groups, same messages are posted in all groups. Every person considers it his responsibility to post every message in all groups. Forwards have almost become a curse. Although WhatsApp shows the caption ‘Forwarded many times’, and limits further forwarding of such messages to one recipient only, it does not give any tangible relief. WhatsApp is the worst App particularly in Pakistan. It has gotten into the hands of everyone, and it has been made free-to-use by mobile companies. The mobile companies have offered that Facebook and WhatsApp use does not require additional data package. It has become a lot easier for the public to use both.
Go to Twitter and there is a whole world of purposeless tweets like, feeling down, just got up, enjoying coffee, made pasta and so on. Guys! Please. We do not wish to have a glimpse of your personal life. There are barrages of tweets for and against every local topic. Fawad Chaudhary at Hard Talk BBC elicited hundreds of tweets, some praising him and others denouncing him. There are very personal attacks, and the worst possible language is used against men and women alike, more against women.
Facebook lost its social value long time. It is now a tool in the hands of governments and their agencies for spreading and counter-spreading misinformation. The people are however, still sharing their personal details on it. Some people literally live on Facebook. Lately, we have been receiving all news about births, deaths, anniversaries, marriages, promotions, job changes etc. from Facebook, which makes it useful to that extent.
Instagram is home to picture updates. Its use is still limited to more educated people who post everything they do.
LinkedIn was supposed to be a professional platform, but you see all kinds of non-professional posts there. Trend shows that LinkedIn is likely to suffer the same fate as that of Facebook.
Then there is the mother-of-all, YouTube. The number and volume of uploads is humongous. A lot of content is high quality and extremely useful, and an equal amount is useless and even dangerous.
Much is written about the hazards of social media. The detail is broad and wide. I shall talk about two main ones only: Privacy and Emotional Impact. Both are separate but become interrelated when privacy invasion leads to emotional impact.
The biggest threat of using social media is loss of privacy. All of us are happily sharing our very personal information as text and pictures. Girls, boys, adults, elderly, all are involved in it. We post personal updates to tell the whole world what we are up to. It is so easy for anyone to track anyone and then follow them physically after watching their routines. Pictures are misused, personal information in exploited. We are quite careless about our accounts making them easy prey for hacking.
I am not against using social media. These are the current things, and we need to understand and utilize them to our advantage. Problem occurs when the line between personal and non-personal gets lost. If it is maintained properly, the risks are averted.
The most significant fallout of social media is the emotional impact of certain events. There are two main categories: attack on person/ privacy, and disputes arising out of different thinking. In these days, politics and religion are two main areas of conflict. The dialogue which starts on a slight difference keeps getting hotter till it destroys relations. The emotional strain it creates may become unbearable. Attacks on person and privacy are even more stressful. A large number of suicides result from emotional stress caused by attacks on person and privacy. Young people, teenagers and young adults are more at risk. They are more emotionally charged and more vulnerable to get stressed.
To be Continued……
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