In what may be described as the ‘old days’, one did not get to interact with people outside one’s immediate circle. This meant a certain ‘social distancing’ that excluded being involved with matters not directly associated with one’s life, profession, interests or concerns. Now, however, thanks to the many social media apps, one becomes member of various groups that bring together old school and college friends, the extended family, professional groups, sundry strangers and many more. Issues that one would never have anything to do with directly or even indirectly become burning topics to argue about and lose sleep over.
Is this helping to expand one’s consciousness or burdening the mind and emotions in negative ways? How does getting into arguments with people one does not even remotely know, over political and other issues, take one’s life forward? Does the fact that much of the statistics and public opinion models gathered by various agencies depend heavily on data acquired from social media make it necessary to ensure one weighs in on these issues? Will logging out or ‘unfriending’ give the ‘other side’ an advantage? Will the course of the world’s future depend on what stand you took? This weighs heavily on people’s minds – instead of doing what is necessary in their immediate environment, everybody is out to save the world!
In all of this, how does one define reality and recognise the truth? How to strike the balance between psychological well-being and this rush of ‘direct democracy’? This is truly a challenge at a time when the first thing law enforcement agencies have to do at the start of a disturbance is shut off WhatsApp or even the internet. Entire careers and reputations can be destroyed by fake news that is accepted as true and any corrections or court victories, subsequently, cannot correct the perception. Increasingly, people will have to live with and learn how to function within this new reality. Even getting a job could depend heavily on what recruiters have learned from one’s social media dimension. Even not being on social media can become an impediment in moving ahead with one’s career or social life. One can only hope that the present day generation, for whom no other world other than this has existed, will learn how to deal with it productively and shape it through their innovations along more positive and constructive lines. It must be admitted, though, that the elders today are having a hard time coping.