Sunday, July 21, 2024

Social media bubble


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The impact of social media has not been fully understood. Research on the topic can only be work in progress. Most people on Facebook lock their accounts for fear of the account being hacked and misused for soliciting funds for sundry reasons. What however can cause permanent damage is the trolling that follows an Instagram or Twitter (now X) post, or even a piece of news on the website. Since all news portals allow room for comments, this is also a playground for those with dark, toxic minds to spew out the filth they nurse within themselves. These trolls don’t even spare young people who have performed well in their examinations and are being feted for it on news websites. Such trolls have invaded the social media space big time. But those that still wish to be on social media have to learn to take such comments in their stride and this is where discussions on how to handle one’s social media account is important. Unfortunately, this subject is not much discussed in schools, colleges and universities. Actually, how to maintain sanity in the age of social media is a social skill that is an integral part of modern education.
Social media here would include WhatsApp too which many have facetiously referred to as WhatsApp University. Anyone who is part of a WhatsApp group would know that this is an echo chamber where everyone is in agreement with everyone else with little space for dissenting voices. The human mind has not evolved at the speed that social media has and it is only natural that this invasion on the human attention span is causing severe disruption and distraction. Every ping on the mobile phone compels the user to check the phone just in case there’s something urgent to be tackled right away.
But perhaps what’s impacting minds today are the millions of news portals and YouTubers selling instant news without the necessary rigour of editing and fact-checking that traditional or legacy media as it is referred to, goes through. A large majority of media consumers today derive their information on a range of issues from such channels. Some are outright communal and feed a constituency that is already prejudiced against a set of people or community. They play on peoples’ fears and therefore need to find only those stories that make victims or some and perpetrators of others. The social media handles of these self-styled content creators have become a location for toxic masculinity to parade itself by putting out misogynistic views that judge women harshly and even propose a set of social mores for them. Such social media channels hardly discuss the ugliness of rape but will find reasons to justify rape. In such circumstances unless there is mass awareness and public astuteness on separating news from views things are going to take a dangerous turn.


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