Social media — a double-edged sword

Anjali Jhangiani
Monday, 14 August 2017

Social media gives you the freedom to say whatever you want, but sometimes people are also victimised for expressing their thoughts. Here’s a debate about whether social media is liberating and empowering or just a place for utter chaos and anarchy?

The world has become smaller. No one is immune to criticism, no one is denied the opportunity to raise their voice against anything, relevant or irreverent.While social media platforms are a boon for humanity to stay in touch with friends and family settled far away, it has also encouraged baseless word bashing for some people when they voice their opinions, and is not in line with others, about hot political or social topics.

Social media allows you to connect with people who might otherwise seem unapproachable, but also tends to become a fish market with so many opinions being voiced together. When Sonu Nigam shared his opinion about the azaan, people who did not agree with him went all out on Twitter to diss him. Sona Mohapatra was trolled for speaking against Salman Khan’s comment on rape. Shobhaa De is always slammed for saying what she wants, and, more recently, Barkha Dutt came under fire for her thoughts on the debate about period leave. All this turmoil makes one wonder whether social media really gives you the freedom to express yourself or does it restrict you from doing so? Here, we have thoughts on this conundrum from a senior citizen who has lived a satisfying life before the digital age and a student who can’t imagine a day without the Internet.

Use with caution
On our 71st Independence Day,  I can’t help but think of the long way our country has travelled into the modern world. From bullock carts, horse carriages and a few Ambassador cars to the sleek international models one sees on our roads today.From slates and lead pencils to desktop computers and laptops. From writing a letter which sometimes took months to be delivered to instant communication via email and Whatsapp. We also have social media from which you can access any information and express your thoughts on any given subject. We did not have all this in our time and had to make do with newspapers and magazines.

While social media and instant communication has its advantages, unfortunately, it is being misused by unscrupulous elements for mischief and antisocial activities. We must always bear in mind that our posts are open to everyone, so we should refrain from explicitly insulting or hurting the sentiments of others.

Through these networking sites, people get a platform to say what they want without having to think of the consequences. They tend to post things that they would not tell a person on their face. There are no etiquettes involved and this is why a simple conversation can lead to a massive debate and ultimately end on an ugly note with mud slinging.
Users of social media should approach the same with an open mind and accept opinions voiced by others as just that. Thus one can have a healthy debate without blowing simple issues out of proportion.

We have to accept the changing times and move along, else we will be left behind. Anything new always has its advantages and disadvantages and it is really up to us how we adapt and use the same for the betterment of future generations.
— Michael Dwyer, resident of Pimpri

Making the world a smaller, better place
Social media is the glue that keeps us together. I can’t imagine life without checking my phone for notifications on various social media platforms which is the first thing I do when I wake up. Social media is a place where information is available for everyone to see, and that kind of exposure works as an advantage. If you’ve had bad service at a restaurant, or need to complain about a product, you can write on Twitter or Facebook. More often than not, you get a reply and the rectification or compensation follows soon.

I am also very interested in keeping  track of what my favourite celebrities are up to, and often tweet to them too. I once tweeted to actor Ryan Reynolds and he liked it. It was the best day of my life.

But besides these frills, social media gives everyone an equal opportunity to make sure their voices are heard. I recently read about a man sending lewd pictures to a woman and asking her inappropriate questions on Facebook messenger, so she posted them and the company where the man worked got to know and fired him. This proves that you can use social media for cheap antics but then you may also have to face compensation for the cheap thrills. There will always be bad people, but that doesn’t mean that the platform is bad. It is a great way to connect with people to spread awareness.

One day, a grandpa posted that his grandchildren didn’t show up to have dinner with him, so random people showed up at his place to cheer him up with dinner. Another time, a boy posted that he didn’t have the money to buy books to read, so Netizens sent him loads of books. You can use these platforms to make the world a better place, but you can also use it to start bitter arguments. When that happens, it’s best to ignore people who don’t make enough sense for a healthy argument.
— Ankur Bhatia, student, Bharati Vidyapeeth University

 

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