This week, I got my good friend and my guest blogger @thesmilingtoucan to offer some reflections on the omnipresence of social media in our lives… So, here we go…
If you are living in the moment, you will no doubt be a child of the Internet. From Facebook to Tumblr, and Snapchat to Viber, our lives have never been more distorted, influenced and present on cyberspace.
And as you may be all too aware, the dangers of the Internet continue to proliferate. From online addictions to vicious trolls, and misinformation (fake news) that spreads like wildlife- the list of ills seem long and never-ending.
Real or Not?
Much of social media lulls us into a false sense of security, by presenting us with a sense of either faux anonymity or detachedness.
For many people, the ‘Internet’ is seen as being ‘unreal’. A tweet or a post is seen as having less clout than a published word on a piece of paper or a printed photograph. Ergo, a person feels that one can act and conduct oneself on such a platform without any repercussions. But this is not the case.
Every action we undertake on social media, as in the outside world, has a trail of consequence. Our online actions carry as much weight as those in ‘real life’. And many people, not least the incumbent President of the United States, should be all too aware of this.
Power and Definitions
One of the incongruous effects of social media is the implicit power that lies behind it. For example, Twitter culture promotes elegant comebacks and verbal spats, or in today’s parlance- ‘burns’ and ‘schooling’. Responding to something problematic with a nuanced reply certainly has its benefits. But if we are to dive deeper into this, we can come to unearth some equally problematic trends.
As said earlier, many individuals perceive social media as being somehow less tangible than the real world. And thereby, problems arise. For example, a Tweet that attacks a certain individual could get retweeted and liked a hundreds of thousands of times. We must understand that this attack is an act of cyberbullying too. For bullying is about power relations, and whenever someone else demeans another person and brings them down- it is an act of bullying, point blank. Yes, we can criticize unwholesome actions and problematic behaviour- but we must always criticise the act, and not the whole person behind it (for they are always so much more than a single action), as one man wisely reminds us.
Disconnect to Connect
In our era of hyper-connectivity, we must make a conscious choice to disconnect from the online world- digital detoxing or whatever you call it. We must come to understand that both these acts are necessary to function fully in our world- yin to the yang, as it could be. By taking the time out of constantly being bombarded with too much information, we can refresh our internal sources of empathy, conscience and intelligence. Then when we are ready to re-engage with our online worlds, we will do so in more mindful and meaningful ways.
With that wonderful piece of writing, I would like to thank Dilshan for taking the time to write some content and share it with all of you.
Await more fun stuff from me! Until then, ciao!
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