Social Media - a boon or a curse ?

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh *

It took 38 years or so for Radio to reach 50 million people, 13 years or so for television to reach the same number however it took just 4 years for Internet to do so. In just one recent year, the Popular Social Media site Facebook signed over 200 million users.

What makes Social Media so Appealing? What is a Social Media or networking site?

The answer is: it is a website that allows those who have an account to communicate with a selected group of friends or people. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and 2Go are just some of these Social Media sites.

In recent times, we have experienced an overwhelming upsurge in the number of new users, especially youths. This in turn has been a force for good. It has improved relationship, improved learning, created awareness, improve crime detection, helped students make good grades, created thousands of jobs, connected friends and family and improved to spread useful information and much more.

However it has done the opposite as well. How so? When properly used, Social Media has been a powerful tool in connecting with loved ones and interacting with friends. In fact, humans are hardwired to interact with humans and thatís why Social Media is so appealing, because it does just that. Also many youths have friends and family members living far away.

In the past, it took weeks or even months for letters or telegrams to get to their destinations. Sometimes they never get there. With the advent of mobile phones, it became easy to keep in touch with loved ones. But sometimes, we cannot call these ones because we donít have airtime.

It might be difficult to communicate with friends and family living abroad because of the exorbitant airtime needed. Worse yet, it consumes time especially since you have to call one person at a time and some may not be at home or available to talk when you are.

However, the Social media has made things even easier. With as low as 10 Megabyte of data, one can connect with friends and family members anywhere in the World and for a longer period of time. In fact, some network service providers have made social media free of charge! This has made communication easier. Whatís more, the Social media has been very useful when disaster strikes-such as the earthquake, Tsunami that caused untold disaster in parts of Japan on 11th March 2012.

During and after such a disaster, phone lines are usually down and no one cares to check emails. So it becomes impossible to communicate with our loved one and inquire about their safety. But with Social media, one can just pick up his cell phone, access the internet and go the page of his or her loved one and read the information posted or even chat briefly. Itís that easy.

But Social media has a demerit in this aspect. In the bid to connect with people many youths have added friend requests from people they know absolutely nothing about. Some of these friends might be criminals, fraudsters, bullies. Sexually immoral people and bad friends. These wrong types of friends can prove to be bad influence .

We have many stories of youths who were defrauded ,raped, bullied and even murdered by their social media friends. Others learn bad things from these so call friends and end up engaging in crime. More alarming also is the amount of time that is spent by teenagers "connecting with friends and families".

Many teenagers have become addicted to the point that the social media has taken over their lives. They are so deeply engrossed that they get cut off from the society and hibernate into the world of social media. These youths are constantly thinking about being online. Even when online, they keep thinking about to update their status and post new pictures when they come to the online next.

They read comments here, post videos there, reply to comments the other side and before you know it, hours will fly by. This in turn will have negative consequences. These youths end up losing the real friends they have to friends they have not met before.

They get robbed of sleep, isolate themselves from family and friends and become lost in the imaginary world of Social media. Some end up getting killed in road crashes while chatting on Social media sites. How tragic is this!

Social media has helped in crime detection, Security agencies have access to peopleís personal accounts. This can help in cracking down on criminals and fraudsters. However it has also increased crime. How so?

Most teenagers think that their privacy is secured while on Social media. Hence they post their pictures of where they are or disclose information that are supposed to be kept to them such as their home address ,email address, where they attend the school, the name of their pet, the times when they are at home and when no one is and other sensitive information.

These information are enough to tell criminals or stalkers when to strike. It can also be used for identity thefts, hackers, phishing, scams and virus sending. The Social media has also made it possible for pupils and students to make good grades at school. Assignments can now be posted online by teachers and students can have access to them. They can also collaborate with few fellow students on assignments.

Students can also have easy and free access to resources to help them learn. This in turn boosts learning and grades at school. However Social media is also responsible for mass failure of pupils and students at the schools. It has been found that while grades of students who used Social media slightly improved the Grades of the students who are addicted to it declined greatly.

One study says that studentsí Users have an average GPA of 3.06 while non-users have an average GPA of 3.82. This is one of the worst real problem & painful situation that our parents are facing at the moment . Social Media has created thousands of jobs for people, at the same times it has led to loss of jobs and unemployment.

Social media is a very cheap weapons to ruin oneís reputation with just one thoughtless picture or post. Another notable advantage of Social media is that it has facilitated the spread of useful information. Today, useful and even lifesaving information floods the Social media platforms thereby, creating awareness and as we know, information is power.

Social media can do well, it can also do badly. The bottom line is just moderation. Youths should learn to use the social media with moderation .This will help to make the world of social media a great place.

So letís use Social media usefully.

* Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh wrote this article for Imphal Times
This article was webcasted on April 05 2019.

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