Perhaps, it would not be a gross exaggeration to conclude that social media has transformed this world into a global hamlet, and very few would disagree with this inference. It has shrunk the distances and has become nearly as omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent as God. A scientist, businessperson, a student or whomsoever; nobody can think of a life without the social media these days. Gone are such days when the people had had to burn the midnight oil for solving a problem. In the present times, a person only needs to access one’s smartphone for mining any information from the social media and the internet.
Anybody who does not have the opportunity to watch the idiot box at places like hostel, office, or classroom for obvious reasons can now afford to turn to social media for latest updates and breaking news. In modern times; only a handful of young people from the middle-income group, who not only know how to handle the technology but are in a position to pay for it also; they prefer social media to the newspaper for knowing the latest happenings and current affairs. It is a fact that the magazines and newspapers require a reasonable amount of time to print and convey anything that has happened even a day ago.
In sharp contrast to that, the social networking websites take pretty insignificant amount of time to publish the updates, which are also pushed in real-time at times. And whether it is good or bad, or whether the virtues outweigh the vices or otherwise, let us save that discussion for yet another day and let us not digress any further.
There are a large number of merits as well as demerits of social media, and as promised a while ago, today we will restrict ourselves on the advantages only.
A place for learning
Social networking portals are nothing short of a boon to the student community. Websites like Twitter and Facebook host umpteen educational contents. All the individuals who are not in a position to join classes, for want of time or money, could easily browse the YouTube and view a plethora of video lessons that do not cost a dime. For instance, an individual can register for a free account at the virtual language communities and learn or teach any language as one wishes to. And not just languages; one can practice for a wide array of examinations like LSAT, CLAT, CAT, MAT, NEET, NATA, JEE, GATE, SAT, GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, IELTS, etc. Social media websites are providing the students and the teachers with a virtual class outside the confining four walls of a brick and mortar classroom, where both the knowledge seekers and the knowledge givers can choose to communicate at any point of time.
The ultimate equalizer
The world had moved far from the time when the media platform was made available to a lucky few like a select group of politicians, sports and pop sensations, civil rights activists, movie stars, and religious scholars. Today’s social media encourages as well as empowers people for contributing to trending opinions and sharing their views. #Black_Lives_Matter, #Gun_Control_Laws, #Refugee_Crisis, #Pray_For_Paris, #Gender_Equality, and #Panama_Papers are a few of the causes; which gained impetus by means of social media and augmented into one such great force that subjugated the powerful governments and rekindled the hope for justice and truth. Many young musicians, actors, and artists reached the zenith of popularity and fame with the help of their official accounts in the social media. The fact that opening such accounts is free makes the social media a great leveler, as it bridges the socio-economic divide, which would have otherwise resulted into a biased system of monopoly of the celebrities and the rich on popular opinions. All an individual requires is the will to engage and involve with the social media, and that person can potentially reach hundreds and thousands or even millions of like-minded folks who make one’s voice on par with that of the famous people.
A rich source of communication
Social media is indeed playing an instrumental role in forging close ties among various nationalities of the world. People from different cultures and ethnicities are interacting among themselves and exchanging their ideas; and thus; social media is trying to break the widespread stereotypes concerning one’s gender, color, caste, or religion. Even if friends or relatives do not regularly log in to their social accounts, they still are provided with the option to keep in touch with their near and dear ones. For instance, Facebook has recently introduced Safety Check, an immensely helpful tool that is used by a pretty large number of people at the time of disasters. People can prompt the social media server to mark themselves secure at the time of calamity, and the system will automatically inform their friends and family of their safety.
Empowering the women
Various research studies have observed that most of the social websites are outnumbered by the fairer sex. Women who are not able to leave their homes and run a business outside have had discovered a novel way to reach out for the large markets. Social networking platforms are indeed terrific tools for operating business, and the pages like Nifty and Tasty have genuinely substantiated it. Women are enthusiastically promoting their brands online, and a host of cleaning and cooking pages and also uncountable E-commerce shops have surfaced on the World Wide Web in recent times. It has, however, made many people lazy couch potatoes as well; as they now have the luxury to order almost anything online!
Connecting the job givers with the job seekers
Social media is an excellent place for all those people who are searching for a job or want to change their existing employment. Even a couple of years ago people used to purchase magazines or newspapers to hunt for jobs. However, this picture has changed radically, and today one merely needs to browse the pages that advertise the available positions in the comfort of their homes and apply accordingly.
The very instrument of awareness
The present world where so-called civilized human beings live in is indeed in a complete state of utter chaos. The netizens or the citizens of the internet are becoming concerned about the Palestinians and Syrians, and are coming to know how they are compelled to leave their native places and living a life that is no better than being dead. People are gathering funds, signing petitions, and donating to charities to soothe their sufferings. Furthermore, social media web portals have urged people for doing social good and making social changes.
Making long distances short is indeed one such magical aspect of the social media. People can now communicate with their long-lost childhood buddies or the relatives living abroad in person albeit virtually. And not only that, but they also get an opportunity to know about the distressed conditions of all the people living in far-flung places, and are taking necessary measures to help them. Social media has taught the significance of public safety and health to people and has imparted valuable lessons about how those people can create a safe and functional society for everybody.
Social media is a sophisticated tool that has tremendously improved social awareness and connectivity. Nonetheless, there is no point in denying the fact that it is indeed a double-edged sword. The fact that social media does not discriminate between what is true and what is not, also causes it blissfully propagating the both with equal ease! Also, research studies have shown that reduced concentration and an increase in the level of discontent in an individual can be safely attributed to the heightened use of social media.
As technology is itself neutral and never asks anyone to behave in a specific fashion, the onus is primarily on the end users how they communicate with technology and reap the maximum benefits. It is a dire and pressing need of the hour that a general awareness must be created about how to use technology for the greater good and social upliftment effectively. Once the Little Man learns this, it is pretty much plausible that online social media could then surpass its limitations and starts to deliver only the advantages to the society.