The Social Net-worth
“You don’t get to five hundred million friends without making a few enemies” – The Social Network(2015). A quote that at the time, applied fittingly at the time to the very famous founder of the largest online social network in the world, now applies to our generation as well, albeit a tweaked version of the original saying. You don’t get to a few hundred virtual friends without losing real ones on the way.
Connecting the world
Welcome to the 21st century, where a collective 40% of the living human race are currently part of a social network of one form or the other. It is quite astounding to imagine that almost half of all living human beings are literally documented on the Internet, with their information accessible to anyone willing to look for it. Using social media has become so mainstream and part of the norm, that those who are not engaged in it, are either considered too young, too old, too weird or frankly put, too dead. It’s a harsh reality to face, but it’s a one we live in and this is the path we are all set to trod on. We are living in a reality where people would prefer the comfort and approval of their ‘friends’ in virtual spaces rather than of those in the real world. It’s a world where a person values his identity and self-worth based on a reputation that he has carved for himself in this online reality. The future that lies ahead only sees people delving deeper into this engineered reality with the advent of time and the lighting fast advancements in the technology that allow them to do so. This is not to say that role of social media in the world has only been as that of a detractor. Social media has done so much to bring people across continent together, reconnect old friends we’d thought long lost, help people find love and allow people to develop global communities without borders.
Virtual reality vs Real reality
The very clear line between our real-world lives and social network personas grows fainter by the day and now we find it hard to distinguish where one world ends and the other begins. We are letting our social media personas take over us day by day and are letting ourselves be controlled by it as well. We value the quantity of ‘friendships’ and ‘connections’ that we make daily, but do not bother with the quality of these relationships anymore. We desire intercontinental friendships with hundreds of people of different ages, but we simply do not take the time to get to know the neighbor who lives across the street from us. We crave approval and social status based on how our virtual personas are perceived and not based on our actions as real human beings. We relish the chance to show everyone else how content and happy we are with our lives and we glean with joy when we receive their superficial stamps of praise. How much value do human relationships hold anymore in a world where most these relationships tend to be defined by the 1’s and 0’s that comprise our virtual lives? With the rise of social networks, day by day, we are losing bits and pieces of what makes us part of a full functioning society; the skills and ability to be social. Preferring to immerse ourselves in virtual worlds, is slowing eating away at an integral pillar of society, that is a sense of belonging and community. Behind the seemingly impenetrable window of mobile and computer screens, getting acquainted with and befriending a bunch strangers isn’t a daunting or possibly risky task anymore. But taking the time to meet new people who live around you just doesn’t seem to be on our list of things to do.
Technology as a bridge between two realities
All isn’t as bleak as this post might paint things out to be. The advent of technology might be made out to be the reason that humans are now less sociable than ever. While this might be true in a sense, it has more than its fair share of ways to redeem itself in our eyes.
Why were social networks created in the first place? To emulate Yellow pages on a more personal level. The yellow pages were very impersonal lines of writing that essentially allowed you to connect with everyone registered in its archives. Everyone documented was simply a phone number and nothing more. They lacked a more human touch to them. Social networks built upon this weakness and took advantage of the social aspect of human nature to bring about a digital revolution that has created global communities at an unprecedented rate in the history of the universe. Building upon weakness and turning them into strengths has always been a stepping stone to bring about change and success and that is a tried and tested formula that has endured since centuries ago.
Put the social aspect back in social networks
The very same social networks that have pushed people away from forging meaningful human relationships into the arms of a virtual life can be used to bring back that essence of living in and contributing to a fully functioning society. A social network is a very powerful tool when wielded correctly and it deserves its place in the annals of history as a tool that either brought the human race closer together or pushed it apart as never before. It is up to us to see that this technology is used wisely, so that we stop simply existing and learn to start living.
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