If social media is active today, it will surely become hyperactive in the days to come. Mobile devices of good quality are available at jaw dropping prices. The media is on the cusp of a major churning. A platform that is unfettered, is unfortunately witnessing freedom of expression crossing the borders of decency and etiquette. We are at the crossroads of information glut and ease of propagation. Dissemination is just short of speed of thought and definitely at the speed of a finger swipe.
Smartphone happy millions are positing at a rapid rate. The behavioral attitude of users is disturbing to put it mildly. Users need to introspect while posting, commenting or liking. Expecting netizens to think before sharing would be too much of an ask though. Freedom of expression is not a spring board for broadcasting filth, falsehood, hate and negativity. Discerning users, have the responsibility to leverage the platform and publish, share & like information in a balanced perspective that can add value to the group and which in turn shall get transpired to the network.
Of course, the adjective balanced is vague. A measuring rod is to analyze the count of contrary comments, hate messages etc., but today I’m not talking analytics here for a change. Implore as to how one can improve. Then the option is binary, either change the tone and tenor of the message or unfriend, unfollow the non-tolerant. If one is convinced, there is no need for conflict. Like minded groups can share the platform peacefully.
Politics and political allegiance, debates and discussions are integral part of the society. It is omnipresent right from tea shop benches to parliament of the country. This represents one of the largest content buckets of social media too. Even political parties are using it. Here caution is to be exercised by users. Statements, denials and opposite views are tempered. Politically sensitive statements have invoked a major backlash on the person posting and the person liking.
“Face is the index of mind”. We may now need to make a subtle change to this old saying. Your FACEBOOK posting is the index of mind. It is more so in the context that you may expose, by your posts, comments and likes, your mind to so many anonymous faces in the group and its network.
Publishing a post and getting likes and comments is a kind of high many users of social media enjoy. I’m reminded of the famous television advertisement of for a motorcycle in the 80’s; “Fill it, Shut it, Forget it”. The quality, veracity and purpose of the posts get diluted in the process. How many people make a conscious effort to study reactions, opposite views and introspect? Many a lasting relationships and friendships have been broken by this.
Users can inject positivity in the media. Recently we have seen lots of posts on the revolution that is being ushered in Indian Railways. TheBetterindia.com is a site which reports only positive and good things happening around. It has 3.6 lakh followers on Twitter & 14 lakh likes on Facebook, underlying the fact that people are inherently attracted to positivity.
Social media is an electronic wall of infinite size for graffiti to multitude of faces. The graffiti by default are bracketed under demagogue or hate and foul messages.
There’s a clichéd saying in Cricket, “A captain is only as good as the team”. Social media is only as good as the users’ contribution. Make it a practice to post, share, comment and like only authentic and fact checked information. Recently WhatsApp had a video message that at a sea temple in down south in Tamilnadu, the beach was ashore with ice slabs. Fact checkers established it was shot in Poland. Sensationalism is best addressed by print media and telemedia. Social messaging can be more curated for fact reporting, avoidance of gore & hate campaigns and contents that are educative, informative, fun and friendly banters.
A small story is of relevance to the context. A sage visited a village. Two young lads wanted to test his prowess. Both of them went to meet him. They had their hands folded to their back. The sage blessed them and asked what they wanted to know. They said, “We have a sparrow in our hands, is it dead or alive?” The sage simply replied “it is in your hand”. Social media is the sparrow and its destiny lies in your hands.