-Sampanna Bhatta

Social networking websites, the mediums to supposedly establish, develop, and flourish social relations among people, are actually destructive and corrosive agents of our society although they wear a mask of sociality. There are various social networking sites roaming the internet out of which Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are the most prominent and favorable ones as they provide a straightforward, easy platform for exchanging messages, pictures, videos, etc. As of the third quarter of 2016, Facebook had 1.79 billion monthly active users, making it the world’s most popular social networking site. If this trend of using social networking sites continues without decelerating, then real society will not be in existence anymore for us to live in, just a virtual e-society Looking from the outside, one can easily be deceived by thinking that these so called social networking sites are beneficial for the society but that is not the case. Through deeper research and observations, the mask of social networking sites can be taken off and their true nature can be revealed, the nature of a social hindrance. While some may carp and others may cavil, there is certainty in the view that social networking sites have and are gradually destroying the “social” aspect in our society though we may not realize it.

Social networking sites have revolutionized communication though people are more isolated than ever before. They have mended many relationships though they have broken even more. A host of problems has arisen, be it psychological, emotional, or physical. They create momentary pleasure but have led to loneliness, depression, and even suicide. Teenagers are more susceptible to this as they spend too much of their time on social networking sites and less in real social activities. This has not only made teenagers unsocial but has hampered the bond between parents and children as well. Social events used to be centered on and around a unit of society such as a family, a community or an organization but now they are generally focused around an individual. In this way, social networking sites are detrimental to relationships of people living in a community.

In addition, social networking websites have hijacked the very concept of privacy. Most people wouldn’t let every person they interact with know their full name, their birthday, schooling history, work history or even their personal likes/dislikes. Yet they don’t hesitate to do this on social networking sites. Most people don’t understand the dangers that social media creates on individual privacy, freedom and livelihoods. We are more exposed than ever before by the inter-mixture of personal and public spheres in social media. For instance, in 2014, the university of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign revoked a work offer to Steven Salaita on the basis of his personal views of shock and outrage towards Israel’s strikes on Palestine which he had stated on his personal Twitter account. Similarly, in 2015 Saida Grundy was criticized severely at Boston University for sharing her opinions regarding the abiding legacy of racial discrimination in American Culture on the same social networking site. Countless accounts of this sort of violation of personal liberties have taken place and are taking place because of the level of vulnerability of people in social networking websites. The formation of a virtual public can help to establish more egalitarian forms of governance. The uncertainty about where the rights and duties of personal life end and those of public life begin also leads to situations in which personal freedoms can be hindered, when they are not directly repealed.

Furthermore, social networking sites have made it easier than ever before to adopt a false identity or change one’s identity at any moment, resulting in an unhealthy society full of false, deceitful people. Facebook is full of pseudo accounts made by real people in order to deceive others leading to futile, fragmented communication. While communicating through online mediums, the level of morality and civility of people seems to decrease than if they were talking face-to-face, causing them to be dishonest and immoral. Moreover, social networking sites have manifested themselves as suitable platforms for terrorist activities to flourish. Extremist and radicalization groups have used social networking sites to raise funds, communicate and spread terror. The Internet assists them immensely in recruiting and inciting new people, purchasing weapons, and expanding their jurisdiction. These are just a few of the ramifications that social networking has caused and it is inevitable that these impacts will just get more and more serious, hence slowly but severely harming our community and its sociality.

In conclusion, social networking sites on the society have proven to be like acid rain on statues, slowly and slowly corroding the fabric of society. They have injected venom deep within our society, the effects of which cannot be terminated but can be controlled. We can make our community ‘real’ again. On a final note, even though social networking sites do have some advantages in communication, these advantages are greatly diminished by the innumerable harms and threats that social networking sites pose on society. Thus it’s best to opt for the more conventional system of eye-to-eye communication rather than eye-to-screen, if we wish to conserve our community and make it a genuine social society again.

A version of this article appears on our Medium Page.
First Published on Jan 15, 2017.