Is it “no social media = no life” or “no social media = real life”?

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Is it “no social media = no life” or “no social media = real life”?

Imagine your days and nights without Facebook … or WhatsApp, Instagram, twitter or any other of the many platforms that are collectively referred to as social media. Countless people on the planet would not even want to think of that.

There is no doubt that these applications have altered our lives to such an extent that now we can’t think of living without them. Connecting with people in an ideal world ought to be in real sense and not digitally. This would save a lot of one’s time browsing in virtual universe and bringing more reality.

in life. Communicating with others while sitting behind a social network takes away the essence of conveying the feelings and expressions; making the interaction devoid of originality and spontaneity.

On the other hand, the use of social media apps for communication also presents one with the opportunity of fabricating a persona that may be against the reality. For instance, it may be easier to project an image of a well-read or ignorant, indifferent or caring, serious or comical person by using information or resources available online.

Making an impression in a person-to-person contact would obviously be more challenging requiring a great degree of ingenuity, creativity and timing. Likewise, taking help of ‘emojis’ to display the desired feelings in virtual world, may be easier than showing one’s expressions in person.

The question, therefore, arises of what our lives would look like if there were no such forums of social networking. There would be no sharing of pictures, videos, jokes or quotations on a click. Neither would there be the desire to work on aesthetics of ‘timelines’ or ‘feeds’ nor would there be the urge to check the digital devices in anticipation of ‘likes’ or comments, messages or responses on one’s posts. There will be no compulsion to announce to the whole world how good or bad the life is or how one feels. Also, there would not be a very pressing need to document every activity through the lens of the camera. Instead, people coming to spend time together can actually relish the moments and save it in their memories rather than on a hard-drive.

This would probably make way for having some real interaction with people who really matter and in effect, spending some quality time. This would mean getting to know the people and connecting with them directly at personal level without having to deal with what is projected on the screen.

This will obviously alter our habits as we would not feel the need to check our devices every other minute for messages, posts and updates.

It has to be acknowledged that from the time social networking platforms started to spread, one or many of them fundamentally became a part of our lives. So, do we consider these sites and applications as a necessity without which the humanity cannot progress or is it that the world will be much better off without them? Moreover, is it better to have the freedom of showing our true self in real world instead of building a false image in virtual reality.

Despite knowing the answers of these probing questions, almost all of us indulge in it as though it is some kind of narcotic. Can you really call this dependence on social media an addiction when almost everyone is collectively hooked on to it?
If we analyze our daily routines, we will discover that most of us are glued to the social media throughout the day. Social media usage is literally consuming our personal and work life and, in many instances, even our work is centered around its usage.

With social media taking up so much of our time, it may happen that some of us may want to take a ‘leave of absence’ from these networks; perhaps, to be themselves. Consider what would happen if this leave stretches indefinitely.

Firstly, we have to understand that, as in the case of any other and real necessity, because of the global outreach of the social media applications; a huge workforce is employed in this field as it provides one with the opportunity to show his inventive skills. Social media platforms have allowed people to let loose their hidden talents. Many products, services and brands rely on such creative minds for their marketing needs.

Naturally, with the absence of social media sites and applications, there will be a large number of unemployed persons in the economy.

Dearth of information
Besides the commercial use of social media, it also permits people to express their view and spread awareness, in general. With so much of information (and dis-information) available at such a scale, the general public now tends to be more independent, or at least perceived as not being dictated, while forming its views, be it for better or for worse.

Opinion building would not be that freer if there weren’t any access of social media platforms.

Disconnect with the world
The digital technology has brought in front of its users, the required information and news from all corners of the world. People are now more aware and knowledgeable about the way world is transforming. It is also quite simpler to form linkages with people of diverse citizenry.

Availability of this knowledge-base and connectivity across the borders would be very restricted if there are no—or very limited—social media applications in our use.

More opportunity for constructive activities
Digital user watchdogs estimate that on average, almost two and a half hours daily are spent by the users on social media. There are tools offered by various apps and operating systems through which the usage time can be restricted. Since time is the biggest casualty, less time spent on these platforms may be utilized in some other constructive interests like indulging in physical activities, reading or actual social work.

The results of cutting down social media usage time and employing it in any beneficial manner can be startling.

Is there life worth living outside social media?
Although, we all are hooked to using social media applications as an essential part of our daily routine; we can say with some confidence that, if there is no influence of it in our lives, we can live quite at peace.

In such an environment, we would be saved from engaging in mostly useless debates that we usually do. We would not be forced to endure cyber-bullying. We would not be targeted by rumor mongering and fake news that normally confuse our minds and put it on wrong tracks.

It would be a blessing as we would find time, that we are currently ‘wasting’ on social media platforms, so that we really do something that really matters which could be as simple as talking with someone we love. In short, we can have an abundance of opportunities to spend time with our family members, friends and the people that we care for. Above all, we can also be in a position to allocate some time for our own selves.

How social media has changed business?
Regardless of our day-dreaming about abandoning social media, the fact (corroborated by figures) remains that businesses today are relying more and more on reaching to their target market through social media platforms. It is estimated that almost one-fourth of the time spent online is attributable to social media sites such as facebook, WhatsApp, twitter and pinterest where users share or obtain details of desired products and services.

This has prompted commercial enterprises to have robust outreach to potential consumers through these sites. A survey suggested that an overwhelming majority of online marketing experts have observed higher website hits as a direct result of marketing campaigns launched on such platforms.

The advent of social media applications has brought a sea-change in the way business is done in the modern era. Business through these apps requires in-depth strategy since the consumers are more responsive to targeted marketing techniques which are gaining importance with more and more people of different strata having started using the apps.

The people of newer age, who have been raised in the era of internet, are used to having speedy access to all

the information and they are at liberty to consider such information as relevant. They are, therefore, unlikely to be impacted by conventional methods of marketing and as such, it becomes onerous on commercial entities to modify their business models to meet the demands of their potential consumers. Corporations who realize the influence wielded by social media platforms, therefore, are positioned to prosper in the digital age while those who resist to this change are most likely destined to fizzle out. True that the long-term commercial objectives remain the same but the strategies to achieve them need to be in line with changing times.

Social media applications and the tools employed by them provide businesses with the edge to develop one-on-one customer contacts and the ability to predict the behavior of future potential consumers in a refined manner. Using these apps, a business can construct a base for its present and prospective customers to garner interest and gather feedback. This can assist the business in leading the customers to the right products and services in a more focused manner which would result in brand loyalty.

The forward-looking business institutes, having realized the potential of these tools, have added them in their course outlines to ensure that the future leaders are responsive to the fast changing business environment.

Social Media and Cyber Security
It would be a great oddity if hackers, always on the lookout for the slightest opportunity, ignored the immense potential of large user bases such as the social media portals Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and several more. No wonder then, they use the sites and user accounts to get vital information to achieve their purpose. First they target their victims and steal their personal data by impersonating as a friend.

By tricking the innocent victims, the hacker gathers details to launch highly targeted attacks. Often they use the social media platform as delivery method and their weapon of choice has been the Koobface malware.

Social Media and Politics
On a larger scale, social media are being used for politicians, governments and worldwide cartels to achieve their goals. Politicians constantly use it to align electoral opinion in their own favour. This might be good, but often they use the platform to spread rumours and disinformation to malign their adversaries.

Likewise, certain governments and their spy agencies are monitoring the social networks for espionage activities or to keep a close watch on their own citizens.

Nowadays, it is hard to imagine spending a day without referring to at least one social media website. This is especially true among the younger population. Social media are now anchored deeply in everyday lives and have become a vital source of information—all kinds of it including political. World leaders recognize the fact and are now keen to seek wider audience and enhanced communication to spread their opinion. The words of former US President Barack Obama emphasize how social media became so influential, “Call your members of Congress. Write them an email. Tweet it using the hashtag #My2K.”

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Youtube, certain websites and blogs have acquired mainstream status and have the power to influence electoral results by attracting a younger and more tech savvy group over voters.

Social Media and Arab Spring
The tumult that followed after a young trader in Tunisia set himself on fire to vent his anger at the exploitative system stirred the entire Middle East. Countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and several others felt the ripples as people revolted against the rulers and their systems. The role of social media in the events that unfolded after January 2011 is debatable. There are skeptics like Malcolm Gladwell who think that ‘high risk activism’ is necessary to bring about social change. By ‘high risk’, he implies that the activists must be ready to lose something to achieve a purpose. Gladwell also thinks that successful change can only happen when there is a hierarchy and organized leadership. In social media activity, that is missing.

On the other side of the divide are the ‘believers’ who think that the influence social media wields and the power it has to bring about change goes far beyond imagination.

A study by Dubai-based Dubai School of Government, titled ‘Arab Social Media Report,’ conducted a survey on a group of Egyptians and Tunisians and asked about the main reason for using facebook.

A large number of the surveyed people—almost 85%—said that they used the media to spread awareness, spread information and organize actions. The report concludes: “growth of social media in the region and shift in usage trends have played a critical role in mobilization, empowerment, shaping opinions, and influencing change.”

The corporate sector is no exception and makes sure of its presence in every way possible.

All these aspects point us to the reality that social media has become a giant offering opportunities to everybody because of the huge following. They wield power and can change opinion on global scale. Anyone who ignores the fact would be living at a disadvantage risking growth and prosperity.

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