Social media conundrum – from reckless scrolling to responsible use
Publish- March 07, 2021, 09:02 PM
UNB NEWS - UNB NEWS
There is no denying that social media are having a moment as more and more people are opening accounts to be a social butterfly with every passing day. Nowadays, you will hardly find a man or woman who doesn’t have an account on any of the popular social networking sites. The trend is so popular now that even when people go out of their places to have an outing, say for in a restaurant, they remain glued to the screens. It seems, in contrast to the usual reality, social media are controlling the users’ thanks to the irresponsible use of social media by the netizens.
Owing to such reckless use of social media, different negative outcomes have recently come to the fore in our society. Gang culture, infighting, and increasing desperation among the youth to achieve stardom are some of the blowbacks that we are witnessing in recent times. According to a report published in an English Daily, at least 50-60 teenage gangs are currently active in various areas of the capital, and the number is on the rise. These gangs are often involved in fighting as well centering petty issues, which result in violent activities sometimes. Members of these teen gangs are also committing crimes.
The reason behind such a tumultuous situation can be attributed to the irresponsible use of social media. If we look closely at how the idea of social networking has changed over the years – from MySpace to Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat, we could easily comprehend the growth momentum. The meteoric growth of short-video platforms such as Likee, which according to App Annie and Mobile Action currently is one of the most downloaded free apps on android platform in Bangladesh right now, has added a new dimension to the concept of social media. When there will be mushrooming of this level, some eccentricities are very natural.
And it goes without saying that the youth taste the tinge of such rapid changes first and foremost. As the youth are the first adopters of any change on social media, or they are the first group of people who embrace social media very closely, they are also the sect that gets hard hit by any abnormality on social media. Meanwhile, academic institutions lag behind in these circumstances as it takes some time for them to take the necessary initiatives to keep up with the times. Consequently, educational institutes or preceptors cannot shed light on the ever-changing trends on social media and fail to provide necessary guidelines to young users in many instances. This kind of gap complicates the situation and leaves the young generation in the lurch, prompting them to use social media in a very rash way.
Despite these odds and challenges, it is also true that social media are acting as catalysts for many positive activities and inspiring youth to do their bit for the welfare of society and the country in a broader sense. For instance- connectivity has been a major blessing of social media networking sites. This single facet of social media has brought about significant changes in the way we interact with people and the way we look at things. There have been many cases when social media have even taken over mainstream media to accelerate a movement with far-reaching impacts. Let me adduce one example that will clarify the matter. In 2018, the deaths of two high-school students in Dhaka struck by a bus operated by an unlicensed driver created a stir among people’s cross-sections and resulted in a series of public protests, all demanding safe roads. Initially, the movement could not gather pace, but within a few days, people started talking on social media about the necessity of safe roads. Consequently, more and more students took it to the streets, and the movement spread throughout the country in no time thanks to the pro-active behind-the-scene role played by social media sites, which ultimately railroaded the government into giving teeth to the existing law by formulating a new traffic act keeping the provision of capital punishment for intentional killing and a maximum five-year prison sentence for an accidental killing.f
Apart from this, social media platforms are helping people to stay updated about the latest trends and happenings. Most importantly, when used responsibly, many of these sites, short-video platforms such as Likee, are playing a pivotal role by providing the youth an outlet for revealing their latent talent.
While using social media, we need to strike a balance between excessive and thoughtless use and responsible use of those social platforms. In order to enjoy the amenities, technology offers us certain steps that could be taken. First, social media platforms themselves are responsible for ensuring that any content that violates its community guidelines is strictly filtered out. Moreover, to encourage more positive content, social media platforms should launch thought-provoking campaigns that will inspire users to be more socially responsible. For instance- Likee’s #NoMeansNo campaign was initiated with an intent to raise voice against all kinds of oppression and suppression against women and ensure a society free of prejudices and stereotypes for them. Such initiatives by social media platforms to raise awareness among its users on important issues deserve praise.
Second, the time is ripe for going over our curriculum and bring in some changes. It is imperative that lessons expounding ideas like social media and interactions on social media be included in the syllabus so that youngsters may learn how to make the best use of social media and not get involved in unproductive or detrimental activities.
Last but not least, just like charity begins at home, the first lesson about the proper use of social media should also come from the families. Depending on how it is used, social media can act as a blessing or a trouble for its user. Family members should open up and catch up with younger members with a view to enlightening them about the perils of the irresponsible use of social media and the perks of responsible use of those sites.