Social media refers to social connecting websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, Myspace, Google and many more, which were created for connecting in the first place. Like all other innovations, social media website also evolved with time and now it becomes multifunctional tools. At first, it was considered a tool for connectivity and entertainment, however, soon it turned out to be an addictive technology. Only awareness would decrease its addictive use and will make it a beneficial tool.
The launching of Facebook by university students in 2004 was the start of social networking websites. Soon it was followed by other networking websites such as Twitter and Instagram. Due to globalization, social media websites become a new normal in every corner of the world. Its ease of access and operation have made it popular in all strata of societies across the globe. Until the last three to four years, its addictiveness was not realized, and still, different research studies are underway to determine the scale of its addiction. However, one thing is clear social media is a more lethal addiction than it was anticipated. Unlike other addictions, it’s not a stigma although it kills a huge amount of time and productive energy of users.
A quick dopamine surge to its users due to its instant gratification in the form of likes, shares, comments, and endorsements. Through its sea of never-ending content from all spheres of life, it compels the users to live in an alternative world of virtual reality. Consequently, most people engrossed themselves in the virtual world to escape the harsh and bearings realities of the real world. These aspects of social media websites have made it a more addictive thing compared to other addictive kinds of stuff.
The biggest side effect of social media addiction which is known so far is the unthinkable amount of time that it sucks from every user along with the sheer drain of energy due to its psychological and physical effects. Besides, now it’s a firm established fact that after the widespread and intensive use of social media, the creative aspects are declining because creativeness needs deliberate thinking, long-term planning and rational cost-benefit analysis while social media don’t let it happen due to its constant bombardment of contents and information. social media has increased the ratio of anxiety and depression among individuals.
It changed the pattern of social interaction. It has contributed to the voluminous generational gap between young and elders. The primary and face-to-face social world is transiting too secondary and virtual communities. We cannot deny the positive role of social media as a quote from ‘’Hamlet’’ by William Shakespeare says ‘’There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so’’
Entering the political dynamics of social media, the USA has been using it as a political tool. In Arab Spring, social media helped the US out in regime change in the middle east. As a testament to the effective role that virtual technology and social media in particular – Facebook, YouTube, Twitter – are playing in mobilizing political protest and democratic rights around the world, it was symbolically fitting that a Google executive in Egypt – Wael Ghonim, the person in charge of Google marketing in the Middle East and North Africa – was among those in Cairo who were arrested and imprisoned for their role in spearheading mass protests in January 2011 against Hosni Mubarak’s oppressive authoritarian rule.
Ghonim was behind the anonymous postings on Facebook and YouTube that are widely credited with instigating and extending support for the mass public demonstrations that began in late January 2011 in Tahrir Square in Cairo. It was a bloody time, and many protesters were bulldozed by government forces.
Limiting the threatening consequences and converting the lethal into utilitarian of this monster, three is a dire need of spreading awareness regarding its negative effects. Through such substantial strategies, we could easily delimit its negative effects. In addition, book reading, and arranging cultural and sports events will help to decrease the addiction of social media. Self-policing is one of the best solutions of new addiction of addiction. In the same vein, there should legislative accountability and risk analysis of social media giants to mitigate the advancing of threatening repercussions. After the 2016 US election scandal, Cambridge Analytica, CEOs of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube faced US Congressional Hearings to confirm and dig out what was happened.
In the hourslong hearing, members of Congress questioned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Dorsey over a wide range of concerns including propaganda, misinformation, racial bias, child exploitation, targeted advertising, harassment, algorithmic amplification of disinformation, and radicalization. That was also a move to give a message to technological giants that you people to are under legislative surveillance.
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To conclude, now it is an established fact that social media sites that were earlier considered a part-time hobby are a lethal addiction having sociopolitical and economic consequences. As it become an integral part of modern life, therefore the only way forward is to reduce its addictiveness by creating self-awareness in people.
The writer is MPhil Scholar in Sociology Department Quaid I Azam University, Islamabad. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.