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In this day and age the use of internet has maneuvered huge areas of people’s lives. Unmistakably, it stimulated radical change not just in people’s style of living but evidently on people’s way of thinking. Social media, for example, is one powerful tool for shaping people’s perception and attitude. This machinery of thoughts, beliefs, opinions and way of behaving aggregate manuals for “ideal social identities” that people follow to keep up with collective standards. One might disagree, but the unrestricted use of social media and adherence to the mainstreams have strikingly promoted toxic mentality. It subtly drags the unconscious individual to poor social skills, false self-perception, self-centeredness and culture of hatred and aggression among fellow individuals. These behavioral changes were only few of the perceived disturbing effects of such conversion of human lifestyle.
With the increasing population of people engaging their time, energy and resources on social media, it becomes a distinguished community allowing its citizens (netizens) to interact far more broadly than their actual physical location. Owing to the features of this platform, it permits an individual to connect with peoples across the globe. It offers freedom to communicate and interact to whoever we want at any time we desire. However, though social interaction and communication is very convenient in this way, there is a significant decrease of efficiency in communication among individuals; since the absence of social physical contact where non-verbal communication is inherently important is disregarded. If we are keen to observe, there’s a lot of people who are very loud, verbose and seem to be comfortable on expressing himself/herself on social media but display poor social and communication skills on face-to-face setting. Apparently, this inconsistency of ability is prevalent among this generation and our young individuals are at high risks. Simply, have you noticed that it becomes customary to see people sitting together to an occasion but barely talking to each other? What are they doing? Busy updating, posting and sharing their whereabouts but not really having it experience. Ironic. These habits that people developed due to fondness and irrelevant use of social media have evidently resulted the to impairment in social skills – worse, it steals time and opportunity to really connect and enjoy the presence the people around us.
So how does social media affect our self-perception? Undoubtedly, social media is a convenient platform for a display of social identity. We are in control of what they would like to show off to boost our self-esteem. In this virtual community, we create our own rules, we pacify ourselves with the things that matter to us and we engage with what are played up by many to fit in. Generally, there is nothing wrong with these activities. We are social animals and these behaviors reflect our natural need for sense of belongingness. But when we use this as a parameter for validation of our self-worth, allow these proclamations and neon signs to feed our ego and let the sensationalized beliefs and opinions compromise our values and principles – that would be another story. Unmindful use of social media could also foster “egocentrism”, an overvaluation of one’s own importance due to the irrational pursuit of the attention and approval others. This pattern of thinking steals joy, contentment and blur the mind with fabricated opinions about our real worth as an individual. This is why we have to be mindful of who we really are, our preferences, choices and decisions. There should always be harmony between our thoughts, feelings and behaviors to keep ourselves sound and sane. Irrelevant adherence with the expectations of the society is like sabotaging our human need for freedom to express ourselves in ways that echo our inner thoughts. We should not fear being outmoded or out of the lime light of social media. At the end of the day our truthful self-perception and peace of mind is much more important than what other people dictates, thinks and expects on us.
Now, let’s talk over how verbal aggression is very prominent on social media. Evidently, almost all of our social issues are discussed on this podium. To mention, politics, issues on criminal and juvenile delinquencies, environmental insurgencies, human rights and prejudices are surfaced here. And due to the availability of social media as means for expressing personal concerns, everybody could raise their sentiments. Sadly, because of opposing opinions, several point of views and people who outrightly give their statements even without proper basis fuel and complicate arguments. Making it worse, because of the unrelenting claims for “freedom of speech” everybody feels entitled to say something, sometimes deliberately careless – without considering the relevance and fairness of idea regarding the issue. This diversity of thoughts instead for the purpose of increasing one’s understanding turns out to be competition of whose premise is better. This impaired system of expressing oneself corrupts the very function of communication. It primes people to defend their stance and despise those who they think disputes their ideas. In this manner of argument, when one starts to lose, they drift away from the real issue and will start to assert the other personally which eventually nurtures aggressive tendencies and hatred among individuals – detaining the people to a vicious cycle of hostility towards one another.
But don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good things that social media could potentially offer if we use it for a noble purpose.
Nevertheless, the social media landscape has dramatically changed from how it started. Decades ago, this platform reflected the innocence and sincerity of people sharing their insights and lifestyle to one another. It linked people together in a way that strengthened communication and nourished relationships – until now.
Gone were those days but we can relive them by redeeming our social media culture and raising our netiquette. For once we should all appreciate the beauty of this technology and the purpose it should serve: to elevate understanding, acceptance and connection among our kind.