This week Indispire asks, if use of social media makes us antisocial? I think use of social media is addictive. Between those addicted to their desire to remain perennially connected and those who don’t feel the same desire, there are different shades. Yes, being unsocial is one such shade.
Before I make my case, let me say that we live in an era of information. Where information of all the things that are happening around us, both near our home and far away, are literally at our finger tips. This era is called digital age. Availability of personal computers and internet, has facilitated the information age. Further availability of mobile phones, has made digital era mobile. One can access information while on the go. Many kids born post 2000 AD, millenials, digitial era is but an exention of their daily life.
Thanks to digital revolution our lives have become easier. We can undertake many of our business activities from the comfort of our homes. We do not always have to stand in long queues to conduct our business activities, be it banking, be it booking tickets for travel or an entertainment, be it procuring and filling application forms, pay tuition fees, apply for jobs etc, and the list is endless, all can be done from home if one has an access to a computer or a smart phone.
Digital age has invaded our social lives also. We can publish an article, actively debate, outrage on an issue, make it viral all using internet. We can make friends on the net, find a life partner on the net. There are many sites available for social interactions, which include Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, Tinder, Linkedin, and the list goes on. Almost anybody and everybody has account in one or more than one social media sites. According to estimates as many as 3 billion people use social media. Access to social media has given common citizens power. One can participate in debates and discussion, one can approach a person with power and influence without feeling inhibited. Many shy and introverted individuals meet their life partners based on social media interactions, without fear of humiliation post rejection, that culminate into a face to face engagement.
However, social media engagements has its drawbacks. Too much use of social media can be addictive. According to estimates as many as 200 million social media addicts in the US alone. One consequence of too much social media use is sleep deprivation. Nearly 47 million Americans do not get enough sleep. 45% of people check social media instead of sleeping. Many teenagers check their mobile phones ten times a night. Many spend as much as 5 hours a day on social media. It is also said that teenagers accessing too much social media are more prone to depression.
Even those social media users who are not diagnosed as addicts, there can be manifest behavioural alterations, that can be considered to go against social conventions. For a detailed review read here.
Use of uncivil language in discussion and debates, which can be simply called abusive. It is believed that the anonymity of hiding behind a computer screen may embolden an otherwise docile individual to act in a certain way that may be considered rude in a face to face meeting.
An artificial sense of bonding is created in social media space. An individual may use abbreviated terms like LOL, Ha Ha, etc even when there is no such emotion is evoked inside.
Ability to interact with a real person is reduced. One may walk past a colleague / friend on the corridor without uttering a word but greet him on his facebook page.
Inability to initiate a conversation in real life. Many users of social media lack the ability to chat up another individual, be of same sex or opposite sex, and initiate a conversation.
Lack of family bonding. Many a time family members on a dinner table will remain engrossed in their mobile phone screens.
Yes, social media has made people addictive. But why blame social media alone. Part of the blame should also go to gadgets like smart phones. If we do not have access to smart phones, kids will at least stay on computers at home and not walk like zombies, connected to virtual world but disconnected from the real one, on a busy street.
Note : The present post is written in response to Indispire prompt. More posts in response to the prompt may be found here.