The history of development shows that there is positive relationship between improvement in the modes of communication and the progress that humanity has made. Since time immemorial communication has played an integral role in our lives. With changing times the modes of transformation have also undergone transformation. From personal messengers, to letters and telegrams, to telephone etc. have all added to humanity in their own way, but in last 25 years the ways and means of communication have made a clear paradigm shift by taking a great leap forward. The advent of internet and subsequently the spurt in 'Social Networking Sites (SNS)' has made communication a potent instrument, making a clear departure from its earlier modes where they were used only as a medium of connection. Although some of the SNS existed as early as nineties but it was only after we entered the new millennium that its users have increased phenomenally and it has become a craze among all sections of society irrespective of age, gender, profession, caste etc...
While the developed nations are using it from quite sometimes but this last decade has made SNS penetrate deep into developing as well as under developed nations. What could be the possible reason for such meteoric rise of its spread? Clearly the speed and flexibility it provides has contributed much in earning a huge fan base for it but the role played by low internet tariffs cannot be neglected. It was coupled with the availability of low cost Smart phones which added another feather to the cap.
Although there is no denial to the fact that SNS have positively influenced our lives, it can also not be sidelined that it is not untouched from disadvantages. Like every new invention, this one too has two sides. It is an instrument which has the immense potential for both, construction as well as destruction.
Let us one by one analyse how it has touched different aspects of our life and simultaneously also look at its good and evil sides.
At a personal level these sites have allowed us to connect to our friends and known to people on a large scale, which wasn't possible earlier. Now a single picture shared by one friend can be viewed by the entire group. It has so much to offer on a single platform. People share their joy as well as sorrows on these platforms. It has also become an instrument to share information which makes us more aware. Hence, it can be seen how SNS have added to our efficiency in every sphere of life. But unfortunately these sites have also been used to pour out anger and frustration. There has been an increase in the issues related with privacy where the accounts of even eminent personalities have been hacked. Using the photographs by morphing them to malign someone's image has also become very common. Recent surveys have talked about the virtual world these SNS create and the momentary happiness it gives making its users oblivious of the true and harsh realities of life which they have to face one day or the other as there is no escape form truth. This virtual world has made a deep impression in the minds of younger generations which may create psychological turbulence. Parents are also worried about their children's addiction to these sites and the lesser time they spend with them. So we've seen how at a personal level this tool can be advantageous as well as cost inflicting.
Now let us move to social aspects. It would not be an exaggeration to say that these SNS have made this world more vibrant and expressive. It has given the society a space it was craving for in this fast moving world. It has become a massive instrument for mobilization, be it political or social. At the global level we have instances where people have shown solidarity toward the victims of recent Peshawar school attack as well as attack on Charlie Hebdo. At the national level we have seen cases of 16th December Rape case, where youth circulated messages to gather at one place to show their resentment towards the incident and also the 'India against Corruption' campaign where social media took the centre stage in spreading the ideology and propagation of ideas. But again we have some cases where such an incredible tool has been used for spreading wrong ideologies, the recent case being that of Mehdi Masoor Biswas, a Bangalore citizen who used his Twitter account to propagate ISIS ideology and misled the innocent youth.
Nowadays the social media is also being used proactively by the political parties during their election campaigning as well as afterwards. They use it to list their past achievements and to further showcase their vision for the future. But here also some parties and candidates use it to defame other candidates which are not a good sign for the democratic countries.
After having discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the SNS we may be in a position to make judgment. It is not to deny that the social media has empowered us in a number of ways, but it also cannot be ignored that to some extent it has added to our miseries as well. So now, the call is in our hands. Are we going to let its disadvantages overshadow the great benefits associated with it, or the other way round? While it may seem that there is contradiction my thoughts as I've portrayed SNS in good as well as bad light, but then it should also not to be forgotten that 'Contradictions itself are a part of nature.' The costs associated with SNS are unavoidable but if use the SNS in a rational manner and utilize it to its full potential then automatically the costs will be dwarfed in the due course of time.