Communication: Social Media
Communication: Social Media
In globalized information and communication landscape there’s a new nation on earth with no defined geography. It is spread across the globe and is less than ten years old. It apparently had one billion people in 2012, making it the third most populous country on the planet after China and India. It has been calculated that “it took the population of modern humans about 200,000 years to reach that number”. This nation exists only in cyberspace and it is called Social Media. Social Media can be defined as “the creative convergence of digital arts, science, technology and business for human expression, communication, social interaction and education”, is a phenomenon that is being emulated and imitated the world over. It is inspiring new forms of human interaction, a phenomenon described as social media networking.
India can seize a series of opportunities while harnessing the progressive aspects of the exponential growth of social media-although a substantial section of the country’s population is yet to benefit from access to the internet- even as this exponentially growing phenomenon has a distinct downside, since it has been (and can be) misused and abused to spread rumour and discontentment. The flipside of the social media as an empowering and democratizing force is its potential to spread chaos, confusion and anarchy. Like other developing countries, India will have to not just bridge the overall digital divide and the urban-rural hiatus in the use of the internet but also find an appropriate balance between the positive and negative aspects of the social media, between their benefits and their challenges.
Social media has been defined as a group of Internet-based applications that allow the creation and exchange of user generated content.” “Furthermore, social media depends on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, cocreate, discuss and modify user-generated content. It introduces substantial and pervasive changes to communication between organizations, communities and individuals.” To appreciate the significance of those statements above one needs to take a quick look at a certain set of reasonably well authenticated statistics relating to internet usage and penetration that pertain to June 2012. If one compares these numbers with a similar set of figures pertaining to the situation that prevailed twelve years earlier at the beginning of the new millennium, internet use globally has grown by over 560 per cent in this period. Still, the penetration of the internet in the total population of the world is just over 30 per cent; in other words, two out of three individuals on the planet still have not used the internet, leave alone benefit from it. In Asia, which currently accounts for over half the world’s population, Internet Users in Asia 2012 Q2 internet growth has been in excess of 840 per cent over the last twelve years. Asia Currently accounts for almost 45 per cent of internet users the world over and India contributed < 12 per cent of this number in the middle of 2012.
While it may be true that social media has led to what is called the “democratization of the internet” and most significantly preserved the ideals of free speech and expression, it is equally true that it has also led to trouble which seems to be growing in strength. With the availability of the internet on the rapidly burgeoning number of mobile hand-held devices like Smartphone and tablets, the sense of immediacy in virtual socialising has increased manifold. Hence we need to provide quality control in terms of content accessed by children on social media.
Social media is very effective for peer group discussion, distant communication between teachers and students, etc. Social media has also become a tool for e governance, as amply witnessed during last cyclone hudhud in Odisha where government maintained constant updates and warning system with help of social media on computer as well as on mobile systems.
Thus there needs to be multi-sector emphasis by families, civil society to use social media for aforementioned constructive purposes along with regulatory mechanism like cyber police keeping vigil towards any untoward activities, thus adapting social media to our benefit.