Expression is a gift to mankind which gives it an edge over the other living species existing in nature. The need of expression of the Stone Age man gave rise to development of language and art. When the miracles of science and technology paved way to astounding inventions, little did we know that the bug called 'internet' would capture the world to this extent. Computers, mobiles and internet gulped down a lion's share of the modes of communication. This thirst for expression coupled with the tool of internet gave rise to social networking. People began to interact with each other through multimedia of words, images and videos. Early social networking sites like 'Friendster' and 'Six degrees', were soon replaced by more personalized versions like 'Facebook'. The caterpillar of social media soon turned into a butterfly and unfolded its wings.
Today the world has come so close that anybody and anything is just a click away. Long lost friends reunite on these social networking sites. NRIs stay in touch with their folks by sharing images and videos. Response to a single 'tweet' takes less time than typing the same. These sites have created a common platform for all age groups to interact freely. The opinion of a teenager is not judged on the basis of his unruliness or informal looks. Each person has an identity which is not linked to his face value. One of the best examples of use of social networking is the success of Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi. His ideology and path of action was shared with billions of people in no time through social media. The common man came closer to the governance and felt as if he is a part of this transparency. Shows like 'Satyamev Jayate' created a positive discussion forum through social media to discuss the issues that the country faces today. Social networking has given rise to feedback to every issue. Such a feedback completes the cycle of communication.
But as it is rightly said, 'Some things in life can be a good servant, but a bad master', social networking has its dark side too. Cyber bullies are an offshoot of the growth of social media. Information shared on these sites is misused to give rise to fraudulent activities. Lack of information of privacy settings can turn out to be dangerous to the users. They fall prey to unacceptable sharing of photos and videos. Digital stalking leaves minimal trace and victimize large number of teenagers. Many cases have been reported of sexual harassment of teenagers through such networking sites. Fake profiles of celebrities has become another monster arising out of social media. People believe and share things without checking the authenticity of the same. Hoaxes of celebrity deaths have become viral in the past few years. This spreads like wildfire and it is impossible to extinguish the root cause. Some of the hoaxes that the country fell prey to were, 'Kurkure containing plastic', 'fake photo of India's illumination during Diwali', 'Assam celebrating rape festival', and many more. There are some subtle ways in which social networking affects the people. Reality and common sense takes a back seat and the monster of publicity converts each issue into an event. Human interaction and meetings have been replaced by virtual meetings. Clicking the moment has become more important than living the moment. Such need of showcasing every hour of your private life will leave the users exhausted and hollow from inside. The wave of one particular social networking site will recede and make way for a new one to sweep the world with its force.
It is in the hands of the users to be prudent enough to know how to enslave this technology before it enslaves us. The users should have thorough knowledge of what to share and how to share on social media. Rationality should not lose its place while we step into the whirlpool of information. Parents should educate their children about the cyber crimes which lurk behind the shadows social networking. With such prudency, every user can make the best of what the internet has to offer mankind.