SOCIAL MEDIA AT THE HELM OF YOUTH’S MINDSET

Social media at the helm of youth mindset essentially refers to the virtual playground of socialization which may indeed be quite tempting for the young and old alike but sometimes it becomes the driving force behind many of the youth’s actions.

With the advent of virtualization, almost every work like shopping, communication, matchmaking(we see weddings being held over VR and video conferences), works and jobs are happening over such internet platforms, the question comes up; Upto what extent can we squeeze out the benefits of social media before it turns bitter?

According to Wikipedia, Social media are interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation or sharing of information, ideas, career interests, and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks. Some of the explicit features of social media are,

Unsolicited multimedia and information exchange for youth-Though community guidelines and protocols exist on every platform, its not thoroughly inflexible and some unsavory and inappropriate content always pops up which ends up getting propagated through the youth. Social media is a open book of people’s thoughts and opinions be it good or bad. Any minor misinformation may spark into huge conflicts and containing them incurs huge loss both on a individual and community sides.

Various infotainment platform and exposure to new opportunities- Social media opens up before the youth the whole expanse of choices and opportunity to showcase their individual creative traits. We have a multitude of apps which can shoot a person to instant fame if they have got the right art and the audience find it appealing. We read about a lot of Social media influencers and celebrities who have worked their way into stardom and earning their fair share through social media only. What’s more its being encouraged as one of the most self-satisfying and profitable ethical work as of now.

a global medium to promote freedom of expression- Social media most defining characteristics could be the liberty of perspectives that it grants to its users. Our constitution grants us the freedom of expression but Social media enables us to put out views before the whole world. No longer the thinking of one person is limited by oppressive conditions and caved-in societal mentality. A good perspective is always welcomed and the negatives ones are persecuted by the virtual audience.

a cumulative blend of various influential cultures -Time, place and socio-economic conditions no longer hinder the cultural exchanges between nations and regions all in gratitude to social media. Such inter-cultural communication helps to provide a person from on culture to have a panorama of views from individuals belonging to various other cultures. This helps in promoting inter-community wisdom and broad mentality.

Social media platforms at a glance.

Social media platforms are challenging reality now as they are mushrooming out of nowhere and the business engagement is also at a higher percentage than in the physical world. Some of the popular social media handles at a glance are,

Instagram is an American photo and video-sharing social networking service owned by Facebook Inc It was created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, and launched in October 2010.

Facebook is an American online social media and social networking service based in Menlo Park, California . It was founded by Mark Zuckerberg.

WhatsApp, is an American freeware, cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP (VoIP) service owned by Facebook, Inc. It allows users to send text messages and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other media.

YouTube is an American online video-sharing platform headquartered in San Brune, California. Three former PayPal employees — Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim — created the service in February 2005.

There are many other social media platforms popular among the millenials like SnapChat, TikTok, Tinder to name a major few.

Youth and Social media

Social media brings with it a all new era of lifestyle trends, lightening fast information relay, its on superficial lingo and communicative phrases and altogether changes which are quite appeasing to today’s youth.

It has become the herald of starting virtual revolutions, a open platform of discussion and a vortex of information be it positive or negative along with its impact on youth particularly teens and pre-teens being noticeably progressive.

General Purpose of using Social Media.

Here I put forth the question: Does the youth control the social media or does the Social media control the youth?

Evidently most people spend their maximum leisure time on social media(as per statistical analysis) and thus leading to a decline and disinterest in natural hobbies and productiveness. here I exclude from my accusations those creators who actually promote their hobbies on social media and benefit from it( like authors and artists on Instagram and content creator on YouTube).

Statistics and numbers simplifies the question as to What effect social media has on youth? By a studies done majority of youth(almost 30%) have access to social media on a daily basis but a fraction of 16% have constant presence on social media at all times. We can imagine as to how much attention is being diversified on social media by teens. And these figures are on the rise day by day.

As of now charts all point towards the positive side of social media but if we pay attention 1/3rd of social media population and primarily teens post about their emotions and feelings which makes their fragile mental state vulnerable to both constructive and destructive criticism. We have come across teens committing suicides over live-streams or video uploads. The medieval times had conmen who preyed upon the weak sentiments and ignorance of helpless masses whereas now we have online frauds who target emotionally unstable audience.

Most of the teenagers also post about their [personal problems. Personal problems have a reason they are called personal. Taking a generic example of a common facebook post tagline ”feeling sad with 46 others” won’t exactly solve one’s problem. The sense of false accomplishment and sub-conscious demand for attention and obscure sympathy corners people into committing such foolishery. Discussing it between a group or close companions is a better alternative than ranting it out in public.

Also majority of shared content over social media consists of religious and political beliefs. We see anti-nationalist activities, passive terrorism and all sorts of misconducts every now and then on social media. Such cases have often sparked irreparable tensions when the youth and orthodox , conservative society clash over any misinterpretation.

Positive effect of social media on individuals

enhance their communication skills and social connections –Social media bridges the gap between the youth and their desired peer group and many find suitable mentors and personalities to seek teachings from them over such platforms. Social connections are a thing of utmost importance to build one’s standing in the society and the necessary skills for it are developed over social media.

The youth have a place to express themselves in a unbiased manner- Many topics which once constituted the prime of youth insecurities are now surfacing in social media and proper authorities and counselors are providing effective guidance and mitigating the risks of mental ailments among teenagers. Taking such an instance of popular youth icon Sandeep Maheswari who responds to various youth dilemmas and troubles in his YouTube channel.

Healthy criticism from a global audience helps in grooming self-esteem-A man with a good critic is bound to be successful. Youngster need freedom but not free reign over their life. In the face of constructive criticism the youngster realize their follies in a much passive manner which would otherwise have been forced upon them by unreliable resources. There is a difference between breaking a stone and carving a stone. Self-confidence is also boosted in introverts and the shy-factor also declines when people are faced with their follies.

It gives a chance to expressively hindered people to freely forward opinions –Some people may not be good at holding conversations but may have a wide aspect of idea and knowledge. It has been recorded that youngster are more honest and expressive over chats rather than in real life. The fear factor of body language during physical conversations is absent over social media chats and thus people are able to bring out what’s in their mind more effectively. But it may not be a good thing in every case as written things are more likely to be misinterpreted.

Provides stimulus to creativity as a platform of recognition and credit. –Social media doesn’t really run a free farce and most of the legit brand endorsements and sponsorships are available for talented creators. As an open source platform, individuals with true talent are lauded and receive may benefits both in cash and kind. They receive the fame and good will of their supporters which values up to a bright future in the showbiz industry.

Positive effects of social media on society

Campaigns and awareness topics are carried out more effectively –Social awareness, fund-raisers, public opinionated movements all become easy menial task with the aide of social media. Almost all of the global problems are addressed over social media and effective counter-measures can also be propagated through it. Be it charitable fund-raising or the horrific Australian bush-fire disaster or the migrants stuck up due to covid-19 lockdown in India, social media efficiently communicates the raised issues to the concerned authorities as well as the public. Also people are more likely to sit comfortably at home and support a cause rather than rallying out in the streets aiding chaos.

It gives a voice to the society to contemplate upon its own functioning — Society is made up by the people. And people make mistakes which often go unnoticed due to absence of justified peers or evidence. But with virtual socialization people are given the power to judge their own shortcomings and mend the ways of the society. Social media has been known to bring about many phenomenal reforms such as the popularization of the LGBTQ community and the legalization of Section 377 of Indian constitution. This reform came about largely due to awareness and evidential suffering of trans-genders over social media.

Exchange of ideas ,culture and ethics provides a eagle eye view of various world scenarios –We used to think of out own culture as our covenant and the world revolved around our own beliefs. The idea of supremacy made a culture blind to its own follies. But social media broke down the boundaries and limitations and gave everyone a way to exchange ideals and reform themselves in the best possible way. The world today is a hybrid community with the amalgamation of various ethics from all kinds of cultures and tastes owing to social media.

The right and wrong no longer get hidden and every insignificance is highlighted –People become then judge ,jury and justice of the society over social media. Most of the miscreants and misconducts get flagged down and persecuted over social media. It has proved to be a united front for the young and old to crack down upon the negative elements and highlight the positive ones.

Promotes cross-community interaction and better understanding among them. — Communities interact with each other over social media which may not have been possible over real life due to physical boundaries. This helps in clearing up of misunderstandings and false beliefs to promote close-knit symbiotic growth among communities.

Negative effects of social media on psychology

Maybe the most powerful factor about Social media is its weakest link. The openness and all around accessibility of social media makes its users(particularly youngsters) exposed to unimaginable dangers like cyber-threats, terrorist cells, violent games( blue whale) and other disagreeable contents.

As far as teen psychology goes, social media at times piles up an enormous amount of stress in form of ,

Loss of reality- Often youngster get addicted to social media(like Instagram, Facebook) and fail to judge the difference between real and virtual life. Social media popularity and fame-appetite between peers is a big factor in this.

Sleeplessness- Continuous conversations, binge watching, wasteful internet surfing and other forms of entertainment have shown to give rise to insomnia, 8th grader syndrome(excessive daydreaming) and negative scale attitude in children and teens.

Anxiety- Social media anxiety comes largely from youngster being self-conscious of their peer group and always over-thinking about their fit and role in their respective groups.

Isolation- Isolation is a form of silent bullying where a person is excluded from a group without any proper reason or allegation. It leads to loss of trust, low self-esteem issues, and in worst cases severe mental health issues.

Loneliness- People often face disappointment when their peer group over social media doesn’t turn out to be what they expected and in a moment of emotional fragility seclude themselves away from the real world connections as well. This leads to loneliness. It should not be confused with isolation as loneliness is more of a voluntary self-seclusion while isolation is knowingly inflicted upon the targeted victim by a group or individual.

Depression- Depression has been classified as a mental disease which has turned out to be a fatality after 2015. According to a study, one in every five person suffers from depression and unhealthy social media exposure is a major cause of it.

Addiction- Social media addiction, lucrative content, fake personalities- the virtual world has all these in abundance. And often youngster fall prey to these and get addicted to something which values up to nothing in real world and proves to be a inhibitor for a successful future.

Negative effects of Social media on society

The society as a whole also has to bear the brunt of misinformation being spread on social media. Whatsapp has been recognized as a major platform for spreading fake news and information bulletins which leads to unprecedented mishappenings and unwanted panic.

Propagating misleading information- The cry of fake news has become a common thing and consumer confidence in even traditional media outlets has been significantly eroded. False misleading and confusing online content can harm an individual’s and brand’s reputation to the extent beyond repair.

Online bullying and workplace tensions- Cyber-Bullying is a problem both for youngster and adults. Typical types of bullying include aggressive and unpleasant emails, private messages and public comments, putting unflattering or manipulated photos of bullying target online. Victims of bullying or harassment often show tendencies of extreme stress and depression.

False promotions and hunting grounds of negative cults- Virus, apparently harmful websites, dark web organizations also claw their way into societal media and the youth falls victim to their malicious methods and intents. This was how the deadly Blue Whale challenge game was propagated by pilfering the private data of targeted youngsters over social media. Terrorist factions also present over social media victimizes unsuspecting youngsters and promotes violence.

Unreliable and unrestricted flow of content and information- Social media being a free for all store house of knowledge and information does little to protect its own standards of safety and security. Many inappropriate content have free stream over social media and are responsible for piloting the youth mindset in a negative direction.

Conclusion

Social media is more about sociology and psychology than about technology.

Brian Solis, Digital Analyst

Social media is a double edged sword in the hands of the youth and the virtual sentiments and modern communications should be reinforced with actual interaction ethics our forefathers imbued us with while at the same time emulating the ever-changing societal advancements.