Social Media: A Blessing or a Curse?

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The blessing of social media is that the information gets delivered very quickly to our homes, so we can react much faster than we normally would around these sorts of things. Social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and others have provided a platform where people can connect, make friends, meet old friends, share ideas, share photos, and more. Social media has surrounded us and helped cover all aspects of our lives. Social media has been a great help to almost everyone in the world, especially young people. These social networks have created a platform for young and old alike to do many things that would not be possible without these sites. Many make new friends; some make old friends and reconnect. Some users have found boyfriends and girlfriends and even life partners so to speak of a few. Businessmen and women use these sites to advertise and sell their products and services easily. Social media has been instrumental in the development of the arts, especially for artists. Artists use social networking sites to connect with their fans. In addition to the artists, prominent preachers use these sites to spread religious knowledge. In the recent national elections in Pakistan, facebook and twitter were the leading social networking sites. Prior to the situation, many individuals and corporate organizations used the social media platform facebook to advise stakeholders on various issues affecting how elections will be conducted. Similarly, in the current political climate in Pakistan social media plays a major role in all aspects. Often, many exciting activities take place on these social networks every day. Among all these benefits is the negative side of social media. Social media has been very useful to the public since its inception but there has been some harassment or malpractice against these sites. Impersonation has been a common abuse of the social media which some fraudulent minds has been using to misrepresent themselves to others especially celebrities to perpetrate fraud on others.

Facebook, was introduced in February 2004 and is one of the most popular social networking websites today. This website was originally open only to students at Harvard University, but this no longer holds true. In 2020, Facebook said it had 1.78 billion people using this site worldwide. Linkedin was started in May 2003, and is less focused on social networking. This tool is used to network within a desired professional atmosphere and allows individuals to build professional, career-oriented relationships. Linkedin is the most business-oriented of the four big social networking websites. As of June 2013, LinkedIn has more than 225 million members in over 200 countries and territories. On the other hand, with roughly one billion monthly active users, Instagram belongs to the most popular social networks worldwide. The social photo sharing app is especially popular in India and in the United States, which have respectively 201 million and 157 million Instagram users each. Facebook and Instagram turned out to be the social network of choice from our investigation as 60% of the sample population make use of it and 50% also ranked it as their best social network. Social network can serve as a blessing or as a curse – it all depends on how you make use of them. In the past, social networking services were viewed as a distraction and offered no educational benefit. Blocking these social networks was a form of protection for students against wasting time, bullying, and invasions of privacy. In an educational setting, Facebook, YouTube for example, are seen by many instructors and educators as a frivolous, time-wasting distraction from schoolwork, and it is not uncommon to be banned in junior or high school computer labs. In the light of the aforementioned dilemma, one question that comes to mind is, “if we succeed to ban users from using these sites in public places, can we still ban them from gaining access to them in the privacy of their homes?”

It is an attempt to answer that important question when we recommend the review of those decisions to ban social media. Instead of blocking them, or putting ban on them, students and others who will use these sites should be properly educated about the use of these sites. Adequate information on other security measures to be taken while using these sites should be included in the regular school curriculum and other institutional manuals that will educate the user on the proper use of these social media platforms. The number of social media users is growing day by day. It is often said that evil grows when there is no good. Contrary to the background, it also recommends the development of more programs that will benefit users in these communication systems. This will help to provide a useful diversion that will enable the user to participate in meaningful processes on social media. It is also a sincere recommendation that security tools should be installed on all social media platforms to prevent misconduct and to prevent social unrest away from using social networks as a platform for their misconduct. Lastly, users of the social network should never agree to meet people you know in private locations. The perils that such imprudent meetings can produce might far outweigh the perceived gains from such encounters. It is hoped that as the aforementioned recommendations are embraced and implemented, we will be able to minimize the perils associated with social network usage while maximizing the full potential as inherent in social networks for the overall good of our world.

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