Since its advent way back in the late ’90s, social media came with the promise of bringing people closer and connecting the world. And this simple but fascinating promise is the reason for it gaining such rapid popularity, not just amongst a select group but across ages, ideologies, ethnicities, and geographies. Facebook and Google being one of the Big Five, truly showcases how popular social media has become and its importance in our lives over the years.
Fun fact: The first known social media website was called Six Degree that launched in 1997 and it let users upload photos, make friends with other users, send messages, and post bulletin board items. Though it lasted only 4 years, it paved the way for many such websites in the coming years.
Social media has not just helped us all rekindle our relationship with old friends, colleagues, or relatives that had become distant in this far-flung and busy world; it has also opened new doors for us and changed the way we live our life. Be it building a network of peers and industry experts on LinkedIn or learning a whole new skill through YouTube videos, or blogging your thoughts, or sharing a selfie on Whatsapp with a new pair of eyewear for some instant feedback, before your purchase 'em! Social media has helped the world in events of emergencies such as floods, or wildfire, or in need of blood to save a life. It has empowered us, by providing a platform to share our opinions on the wider aspects of the world, to be able to bring about change in our world, and even take inputs from experienced individuals and experts from across the globe before making a decision; be it as simple as buying a pair of shoes or as complex as purchasing your first home. It also has given us the power to directly engage with the brands and give our feedback instantly. And all this and much more at our fingertips!
I understood this impact through a personal experience, when at a get-together my daughter mentioned that her daddy’s best friend is “Mobile” and that’s when I decided to take action. I made it a habit to put my phone on DND for a few hours every day and spent that time either with people around me, be it by building blocks with my daughter, playing a game of chess with my wife, having a cup of tea with friends at a corner shop or in many other ways. Another habit/trick that we have at home is phones aren’t allowed on the dining table. And the beauty of these couple of tricks is, while the social media notifications do not disturb you when in the “real world”, you still are accessible in case of emergencies!
These couple of tricks helped me draw the line, and with this, I can reap the benefits of both worlds, being digitally connected with distant friends, while ensuring I spend quality time with people around me. Being actively aware of what is happening in US politics, to knowing how my neighbor is doing.
In conclusion, in my humble opinion, the arguments and discussions around whether the time spent on social media can be better utilized by spending it with real people in the “real world” is irrelevant; social media has become a part of our world, and the “real world” is incomplete without the presence of it. The question is how we find the right balance and maintain a healthy relation with people we love and want to be connected with either next to us or from the other side of the planet; to be able to learn from a wider group of experts rather than being confined to limited options. Like any great invention, social media too has its pros and cons.
What's your view? Do let me know in the comments below!