Dr. Shahid Amin Trali
The internet is so trendy nowadays that almost anyone uses and likes it. Internet is building more dominant societies around the world. And this is biggest achievement. Globally connected people are now increased in number than a society.
It is harder to imagine now a happier day without using the internet and its wide range of services. One among the good services enabled by internet is social networking. Over the course of time laptops, smart phones, tablets etc. have changed social networking and the way we communicate with one another entirely. Social media has quickly integrated into many aspects of our daily lives. Websites like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, YouTube and many more make it easy to keep in touch with family and friends, to engage in online conversations and to have easy access to many good services. Chat and social networking are great ways to stay in touch and find new friends beyond boundaries. Social networking has done wonders to give us back our good and old friends with whom we had lost all the connections in life. Friends… they cherish one another’s hopes. They are kind and supportive to one another’s dreams.
Social media is an immense contributor to the educational field. Social sites have huge members with rich experiences and credentials. There is so much to gain as new concepts, awareness regarding seminars, conferences, what is happening around the world. You may be shy as a student in the class rooms but you can pose queries to your online teachers and get your things solved within no time. There are some of the sites which are dedicated specifically for the education, research and developments. LinkedIn enables to connect with like-minded teachers and groups to advertise credentials and experience. Twitter allows announcing and sharing news, ideas and resources, not just to colleagues but also to students. YouTube allows broadcasting the achievements. Facebook and Whats App groups can create educational spaces that are more innovative and produce much brighter outcomes. Besides certain social media platforms can also be invaluable tools for professional networking, either within specific subject fields or across different disciplines and professions like ResearchGate or Academia.edu etc. Covering conferences live on social media allows others to follow and participate in discussions online who might not have been able to attend – or maybe were not even aware of the conference in the first place. This increases dissemination and reach of current research.
Social media has also quickly achieved the ranks as a prime news platform. It is now found that while TV remains the most popular news source, amongst the millennial generation it’s closely followed by social websites. Social media generates immense exposure for businesses, and that’s only one of its many advantages. Social networks are now a significant part of every marketing strategy. The benefits of using social media are so great that anyone not implementing this cheap and outcome based resource is missing out on a phenomenal marketing opportunity. Simply by having a social media page brands benefit heavily, and with regular use it potentially can generate a wide audience for any type and any size of business. The number of employers using social media to screen candidates at all-time high, finds latest career builder study. The research finds 57 percent employers are less likely to interview a candidate they can’t find online; 54 percent have decided not to hire a candidate based on their social media profiles; half of employers check current employees’ social media profiles, over a third have reprimanded or fired an employee for inappropriate content; 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates, up from 11 percent in 2006.
Social networking is contributing immensely for good cause and more particularly in donations and charities. It will be unjustified not to share my recent experiences in the hospital where my close family member was suffering from some critical illness and was in need of blood. I felt clueless but social networking came to my rescue. With just a single post on my groups, a large number of friends were ready to give blood. Surprisingly a guy from Zambia who is in India was also ready for a noble cause. Salute to people with a brave heart. Social networks have changed charities and that’s very bright. Many organizations have truly embraced social media and have, appropriately, embedded it into their fundraising and marketing strategies. Social channels are crucial for charities for raising money, talking with supporters, campaigning and raising awareness of their cause.
There are great examples going where human lives are saved and social media plays a heavy role. Social community members have shown their value and power in contributing funds within no time for needy persons in terms of blood and funds for treatment etc. Not only humans but there are organizations looking into the welfare of the animals. Few years back Friendicoes, a shelter home for stray animals, which has been serving animals in distress, announced that it would have to close down due to lack of funds. Animal lovers across the country have been deeply troubled ever since they heard the news that Friendicoes, a Delhi based shelter for stray and sick animals, is facing closure due to lack of funds. The public concern against this was quite evident on social media, and it soon got converted into a fund generation campaign to save the beloved shelter home for animals. Soon everyone was talking about Friendicoes, and the online campaign managed to raise over Rs. 13 lakh in just a day with the help of over 400 contributors. Social networking also comes to rescue of families whose members like children etc. go missing and social networking finds again their lost smiles. Many children are safeguarded from thefts. Many mentally retarded persons have been shown way back to their families through posting their pictures on the networking pages.
Rightly said that everything has a brighter as well as dark side and social media is not an exception. There is a mix of reactions from the businesses for employees to make use of social networking sites on job timings. Some allow it to improve employee innovativeness and networking while some disallow just it kills their productive time. There are examples where students are mostly found engaged in social networking only and show lesser interest in studies. Excessive or inappropriate use can be harmful having negative consequences on the reward and emotional systems leading to addiction. Some studies also claim that brain patterns of compulsive Facebook users are similar to those of gambling and drug addicts. There are also some risks meeting people online-especially when we don’t know them in real life. When we share things online we may be sharing with people we do not know or trust. Once a message, photo or video has been shared, we also won’t be able to control where it goes. There are also many challenges in terms of rumors, hoaxes, arousing sentiments etc. It is therefore essential to be aware of and enforce rules for using social media. Some of these are included in the rules of ‘netiquette’ and general professional conducts of behavior. Others depend on the type of content posted and revolve around copyright, intellectual property or confidentiality issues. Besides the first thing many good people realize when we start playing around with social media is that it can be a cruel, ugly time suck. And too many never get past that point. The power of social media is immense. The fact is that the social media when used in right ways is the most powerful form of communication, marketing and market research tool. What the good internet and social networking sites does change is the pace, scale, and cost of communication. Even though future will witness huge changes in specific platforms but the concept of social media is likely to stay. As such it has become pertinent to engage with social media and become ‘digitally literate’ rather resisting and challenge its use at all. There are challenges surrounding social media but understanding social media, and building knowledge and confidence to use it effectively has become prime need to be part of modern society. We live in a modern social world. We need to learn how to be effective collaborators in the society, how to interact with people around us, how to be engaged and better informed. We need to learn about the incredible power of social-networking technology to be used for societal benefit. Social media has now proven itself to have command beyond liking celebrities and creeping on pictures. Nowadays, it is proving a potent self-promotional tool and more than ever, employers are turning to social media and sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to seek out their next potential employees. Social media has now emerged as the power and will continue prosper the human life in many ways. All we need is the right usage and control over the medium. All in all, people have to weigh the merits and demerits of social media to decide for themselves whether social media is a blessing or a curse.
(The author is Assistant Professor, ITM University Gwalior.)
Dr. Shahid Amin Trali