Social Media and its Discontent(s): Lost Social Spaces must be Reclaimed

Social Media and its Discontent(s): Lost Social Spaces must be Reclaimed
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By Fayaz Ganie

This is the age of social media where the entire world is like a global village, if not a family. In this age, people from one extreme of the world remain connected with those on the other extreme. Virtually these people are much closer than the people who live in the same house, same room or for that matter in a same bed. They can talk to each other, see each other and send messages, photos and videos. In sum, barring few things they can do everything that the people in close proximity do.
In this age defined by the ubiquity of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT’s), the dictum necessity is the mother of invention has been turned upside down to invention is the mother of necessity. That means the things which we do not need today, when invented become an important part of life and thereafter necessary for life. In the same manner, social media once was not a necessity some time back but today it is important for the human race. It is this social media which has channels of interaction with the distant people where other modes of communication seem slower and less responsive, and even less important.
So far so good, it is really a marvel and miracle of information technology which has made all this possible. It has provided us with the opportunity to interact with diverse, disparate, distant and dissimilar people and cultures, know them and let them to know us. It has made the transfer of information and knowledge possible, it has made the world a village, a global village. It has made attainment of many endeavors of life easily attainable which were impossible in the past. And, it has impacted every area, face and facet of human life. This explicitly makes it clear that many advantages and benefits accrue out of social media which has made living in this age enjoyable, comfortable and luxurious.
However, like everything else there are disadvantages and drawbacks associated with social media, and with the modern technology dependent mode of life. The virtual world might have reduced the distance between the people who are distant but it has increased those between the ones who are near. It leaves less time available with us to interact and care about the people who are near us and who are around us. We may know about the happening in the remotest corner of the world but we have no time to know what is happening in our immediate neighborhood or what our immediate partner is up to. We are far less concerned about the needs, feelings, desires and emotions of the partner, and the role and responsibility towards that partner, and the people around than are we concerned with the social media.
If our neighbor is in distress we are busy with a friend of the virtual world and so unable to help the neighbor. If our family member is in need of something, or some support of any kind, we are untraceable though physically next to that person. If we are expected to ease out the sufferings of the sufferers among our near and dear ones, we are uninterested to perform that responsibility. The overdependence on the modern modes of communication and social media has rendered our physical existence fractured. We are where we do not exist physically!
When we are walking we cannot see the things around, when we are travelling in buses and other modes of transportation, we are unable to see our co-passengers, when we are studying we get distracted by the message of a friend from far off, when praying in Masjids, Churches and Temples the technology allows not us to have a spiritual conversation with the Almighty. Meaning that our each area of life has been occupied by things which were once alien and unknown to us and these same very things have made us alien to the people who are around us and we are unknown to them in the same manner owing to the same very cause.
The people who make others to suffer of this state of affairs also suffer in the same manner. We receive what we give to the others in full. When we act in some erratic way the partners, and people around, might try to correct us for some time but once they are convinced that we are not going to change, they get changed. They start acting in the same way as we have been acting towards them. Not only they do what we have done to them already but they return that will all the permissible interests, as they say, in the language of banking. They do it with far greater intensity and frequency, and when we need them they too are simply not available. They care not now because they now have other things to do, mostly on the social media.
Another truth about social media, and other modern means of communication, is that these spread too fast in the areas hitherto not connected and impacted by them. In these areas, the associated disadvantages take driver’s seat than the advantages. The disadvantages accrue due to diverse reasons including mishandling of these technologies and lack of information about them. Contrarily, in areas where these technologies got introduced gradually, the demerits remained relatively more or less in check. In the former areas, the demerits and disadvantages outweigh the merits and advantages. The result is that more and more social spaces, in more and more of the areas of the world get receded by the adoption of social media by those areas and by those people.
Now, the question arises what should be the solution, that is, the proper way of dealing with the social media and modern methods of communication? The answer is somewhat ambivalent; life without these modes of communication is simply unimaginable; the advantages of these media are so great that giving them up would be an utter folly. It would be a great disservice if they are given up or regulated, as many people suggest that, so much so that they remain of no advantage to us.
Therefore, the best strategy is to maintain a balance. While using social media, one should not be oblivious about happenings in the neighborhood; one should be adequately concerned with people and partners in close proximity. The messages and posts on social media will remain there; they can be checked later but in case a person next to us is need and is not helped, is utter disservice to the people we should care about the most.
Humans are supreme of all creation which necessitates, and make it obligatory upon them, to amply depict that and prove this at every stage of human existence. Showing that on social media and neglecting them in the actual life is of no use. The lost social spaces need to be reclaimed; it is the best way to live one’s life.

—The author can be reached at: fayaz.greatstep@gmail.com

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