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Exploring the World Through Social Media is not as Good as it May Seem

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J. Angelus

Rarely does a day pass by without the clicks, scrolls and stares of social media. Among the 3.4 billion people around the globe who access the internet, nearly 2.3 billion are found active on social media sites. Specially, youngsters seem to have developed an unbreakable bond with them. Social media provides different forms of interaction. They provide a wide range of expressive tools and audience to almost any user.

Nationally, statistics reveal that nearly 2.8 million Sri Lankans are active on social websites, and 2.2 million of them use their mobile devices to update or get updated. The number has increased by a staggering 53% in the past 2 years and is certain to continue so in the future. So, we arrive at a point where it is necessary to outlook the impact of these social networking sites.

While the fact that “our world has more mobile phone users than people who use toothbrushes” may amuse you, I doubt whether you would object, if I say ‘social media’ is just another word for ‘Facebook’ in Sri Lanka. Stats confirm this statement, showing that more than 90% of social media activity by Sri Lankans has been on Facebook for the past couple of years.

Different law enforcement authorities around the globe output some interesting stories on how social sites have helped them identify and track down criminals. Apart from these adventurous and thrilling benefits, there are many emotional stories as well which leave us with a gratitude towards these social networks. My uncle recently shared on how he got into touch with one of his childhood friends using Facebook after nearly 35 years…!

Teenagers claim that these sites actually make them more social and assist them in meeting people with similar interests – which unless otherwise would never have been a possibility. But I presume that most of you would have come across a fact published in social media – which turned out not to be a ‘fact’ at all. This misinformation leads into many unwanted controversies in our society, where people tend to believe that whatever is seen or said in social media is true, – Which unfortunately, is not the case in many instances. Apart from the little embarrassments caused, certain false information / thoughts which are created intentionally and spread among the users, result in nothing but abhorrence.

A psychological expert suggests that people find it difficult to distinguish between meaningful relationships of the real world and numerous casual online relationships. He fears that the abundant focus on these activities, will weaken our important face to face connections. But it does not end there; the lack of physical activity is alarmingly decreasing due to these modern ways of social interaction.

Interestingly and presumably, the average amount of time spent on social media has overtaken television. The employees and job seekers have eyed this existing trend, and the job market has opened a new doorway through social media. Advertising and spreading awareness has taken a new lead – thanks to this technological evolution. The recent flood aid/relief campaigns witnessed the magnitude and effectiveness of social media at its very best.

However, exploring the world through social media is not as good as it may seem. Researchers express their concern on how it narrows your mind and thoughts by feeding only the sensational news and not entirely on what you really need to know. The common complaint about how these networks ‘distract’ you seems a relatively smaller problem, compared to how the social sites can leave you with deep mental scars, often leading to heartbreaks and sometimes even to suicide !

The ability to build trust just by the press of a button and a tiny round smiley, has successfully empowered fake people. Social media encourages us to be more public than what we would naturally be. Have you ever felt that the whole world is happier than you ..?? Or have you gone miserable on yourself thinking about your lack of skills, knowledge or achievements during a social media session..?? Well, research reveals that when people start comparing themselves with these online acquaintances, it induces a negative impact in their lives. And by the looks of it, envy has found a new way to enter our souls..!

But social media ensures that motivation will always be at hand for those who search for it. You are not expected to arrive at a childish conclusion on whether social media is good or bad. The objective is to truly and correctly understand the impacts and set our minds and lives accordingly.

Courtesy: The Messenger – Catholic weekly)

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