Not so social

Mahfuzul Haque lists the ways through which social media influences our daily life and activities

so-socialThink of a day without social media. It may sound devastating to many as social media is now a major part of our daily life. Whether we embrace or reject the notion, the existence of social media in our life can no longer be ignored. Social media, especially its networking sites, have brought tremendous changes in personal, professional, and social life of a human being.
Now many people consider Facebook, Twitter, or Google groups as the best way to exchange daily information with family, friends, and colleagues. How these sites have become an integral part of life can be understood by looking at the users of these sites; currently Facebook has 1.65 billion users and Twitter has around 500 million followers.
When it comes to the effect social media is having on us, there are no hard and fast rules to gauge it; it depends on the users and their purposes. But we can say that the sites have made the world smaller bringing many people in a platform that has made easier to get in touch with one another.
so-social2Even a decade ago, it was pretty tough for anyone to connect with people in such an easier way. Thanks to the sites, the whole idea of making friends has changed; the users can now not only connect with those they know, but also share their emotions, opinions instantly.
Mizanur Rahman, an employee working for a pharmaceutical company, shares that he has found most of his school friends through Facebook. ‘Since stepping into the professional world, it became tough to continue regular communication with friends. Moreover, there are many friends especially childhood ones with whom I am out of touch,’ Rahman says. Through Facebook he has found many of his school friends and other university friends. ‘I can now communicate with them easily,’ he says.
Rahman has also created a group under the name of his high school, where other friends are connected and where they share their experience and memories. ‘Without the opportunity, it would never be possible to connect with all of my friends. Physical distance is no longer a barrier to contact with my friends,’ Rahman shares.
By using the sites we are able to empathise with each other. A friend may have been facing an ordeal that you have experienced earlier. You may be an important person to inform him how you have dealt with such a situation. Hence, social mediahas become an important platform through which friends can stand by each other during personal struggles.
The sites are also an important avenue to seek help from others. Kifayat Kaiser, a student at the University of Dhaka, needed to find a blood donor for his uncle who was admitted in a private hospital in Dhaka. He was struggling to find the donor among his relatives and peer groups. Then he posted a status on Facebook and within an hour he found two donors. ‘It was a great relief that I found donors from Facebook.Otherwise I do not know whether my uncle would have been alive today,’ Kaiser says.
so-social3Our way of life is also getting busier through professional engagements and family commitments. Many people are so busy that they do not find the time to grab the phone and make a call. But just by dropping a message in the Facebook inbox, you can get their update instantly.
It is also interesting that by writing an update on Twitter that will take less than a minute, you can reach everyone you want it to reach instantly.
Hasanuzzaman, an employee working for a multinational company in Bangladesh, has found Linkedin, a professional networking site, to be useful in finding the job advertisement of the post where he is now working. ‘A senior manager of the company posted a job advertisement on the site and I applied for the post accordingly and fortunately got the job,’ he says. It is also an important site for him to gain connection with the professional world.
Facebook is also an important avenue for the small entrepreneurs. Those who do not have the capability to rent a space and operate a business can now find Facebook as a convenient place through which they can reach thousands of customers without paying any extra effort.
Sabbir Ahmed, a student at Dhaka University, along with two of his friends is operating a Facebook page called ‘Bridal Radiance’ for bridal photography. ‘It is impossible to reach the clients in person, so we created the page to reach the clients easily,’ he says.
The number of commercial goods and services providing pages from Bangladesh on Facebook are increasing with every day.
so-social4Also, during recent years, Facebook and Twitter have become important sources for any type of information. When mainstream media fail to deliver any information, people instantly share the information with visuals instantly in the sites. Even some of the mainstream media now collect information from the sites.

However, social networking sites do not always have a wholly positive influence on the world. In fact, if you pay attention closely to how they have changed the world you find there are some negative impacts.
There are many users in the social networking sites especially in Facebook who are always trying to increase the number of friends whether they know them personally or not. In this way, the users cannot distinguish between the real and casual friends.
Moreover, a sense of self-centeredness grows among some users. The users always want attention from others. Eventually, they put emphasis more on the virtual world’s self which impacts negatively on their real life relationships and activities leading to breakups, misunderstanding and so on. Social networking sites are also termed as ‘the culprit’ for loss of privacy.
Social networking sites are also dangerous for children. Though Facebook has set a minimum age for signing up,the rules are hardly followed, allowing many underage children to maintain their personal accounts. There are many gory images and explicit contents shared on various pages and groups which are harmful for the impressionable minds.
Also, pedophiles and other dubious people usually lurk on the social media looking for young children.
Nazma Khatun, associate professor of the clinical psychology department at the University of Dhaka, says that many children are getting addicted to Facebook which is affecting their regular activities. ‘The explicit contents are also impacting negatively on the healthy growth of the children,’ she says.

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