Place: A crowded pavement near the Noida Metro Railway Station… Time: around 9 pm. A 13-year-old boy is sitting on the twilight-kissed pavement. He has placed a weighing scale next to him. People are bustling here and there on the dusty pavement. Some people are approaching him, and after checking their weight, they give a coin to him as a tip for his service. In the midst of city light and the noisy air, the boy is doing his homework.
Vikas Sharda, a regular commuter to Noida took a snap of this sight and posted it in social media.
The photo touched the heart of millions and was shared 26,000 times over, and was reported widely in the media. The life of Harendra Singh Chauhan, who lived in a 7x 7 square meter house, who worked on the pavement after school, transformed when the state chief minister Akhilesh Yadav handed him Rs. 5 lakh, and his good-wishers offered help for him in his educational needs. Such is the tremendous power of social media!
In this globalized era, social media emerged as a miraculous phenomenon to give a new voice to the voiceless and strengthen ties and relationships. It transforms every person into a journalist. It is an extremely powerful weapon to know the truth and collect knowledge from across the length and breadth of the world. As it has been said by former Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, “Communication through space is the most democratic, liberating framework of mankind.”
“This community is against the criminal silence of the media, which should have brought out the truth. It is against those forces that put out the right of women to live”, says a Facebook page demanding justice for a nursing student who was found dead under suspicious circumstances on November 6 at Trivandrum.
When many eminent personalities, including policemen, Court judges, and social activists, joined their hands in a social media community called “Children, our responsibility,” it became a strong move against child labour.
In a recent incident, a group of robbers visited houses of J.P Nagar posing as the representatives of a water company, and the policemen made the residents alert through Whatsapp messages. These are just a few examples. When the voice of agitation echoes in the social world, one can inevitably bring the truth to the face of the world.
Social media gives an incredible array of opportunities to develop literary skills and other soft skills. The blog is an apt example.
The best platform for business, entrepreneurship, and trade in this competitive world is social media. Amazon, Myntra, and other online shopping sites have won the hearts of millions. When the American Company McDonald’s announced the changes they would undertake in recipes and other aspects, the netizens gave negative feedback through social media. Then the company took various measures like uploading videos and photographs about the processes in the company to maintain transparency and integrity. Thus, they became more friendly to the public through social media, giving them wide acceptance and popularity.
But social media is being misused in several ways. Most people try to escape from the realities of life and find refuge in online life. Recently a newspaper reported that an 18-year-old Chilean girl sold her baby for $113 through Facebook. Every day we see a hundred young people walking through the streets, heads bowed down and eyes glued to the mobile screen. I was shocked when I read a newspaper report about a U.K college student who shot himself and took 35 selfies of it. Dear youth, who are hiding from the realities of life, who are enjoying the mesmerizing world of social media, please open your eyes to the real world.
The problems of software piracy, fake apps, phishing, fraudulent online shopping sites, lack of security, cyber addiction are some of the threats posed by social media. There are hundreds of internet de-addiction centers in India, including AASRA, CCITD, SHUT, etc. Terrorist activities through social media, lack of reading mentality among youth, cyber crimes are some other grave problems. As per the words of B. Sandhya, a police official, four to five complaints are received daily in the cyber cell about women being harassed online.
As human beings, we are capable of distinguishing between what is right and what is wrong. If social media is taking you away from the person sitting beside you, if you are going searching for strangers, it is not the social media that is to be blamed, but your conscience.
Social media is a necessity in today’s world due to its infinite potential and mass outreach. A mass awakening and moral upliftment among youth are essential to demarcate between hype and reality. To avoid social media in fear of problems would be foolishness. Let me quote a sentence by R. Anton Wilson to conclude- “In an evolving universe, who stands still moves backward.”