To keep pace with technological advancement, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has cited the right to Internet access as a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. Since Social media in itself is a potential medium for large-scale dissemination of information, it is pretty obvious that it is necessary to keep abreast of the latest developments and to communicate with an extensively larger populace that makes it fall under the purview of the right to freedom of speech and expression. In 2017, Kerala became the first state to recognize the internet as a basic human right. Keeping this in mind, won’t it be a clear violation of fundamental right if a college student, an individual citizen of India who has attained the age of eighteen, being barred from access to social media?
Starting from addiction, the use of social media has a wide range of repercussions on the human body and mind. Addiction becomes a very incarnation of digital neo-colonialism where the physical body, the emotion and the intellection of an individual are being feloniously glued to the cobweb fabricated by social media. However, there are only twelve notches in a regular clock. Spending hours on Facebook and WhatsApp becomes an opportunity cost that has incurred as a result of compromising the time that could’ve been devoted to academic activities. Burning the midnight oil sitting in front of a mobile phone indisputably interrupts the sleeping time of a student that in turn will have adverse implications over his biological self. In addition to that, adolescent fantasizing has emerged as a recent issue that challenges the emotional self of a student, most probably caused due to devoting undue hours on social media and ‘sitting in an armchair with a mobile-phone dreaming up Utopias’, as suggested in a recent study report published by the University of Leeds. This is a situation where an individual fails to differentiate between fantasy and reality. It won’t be a surprise if the life of such individuals ends up in a lunatic asylum.
Similar to the statutory warning printed over a pack of cigarettes, the ill effects of social media are being selectively ignored by college students. This selective amnesia has been legitimized by the digitalization of the education system amidst the pandemic. Every college now has its own social media pages and WhatsApp groups have been legitimized as the “official” medium of dispensing college-related and academic-related information. Classes are being taken through WhatsApp, Facebook, Hangouts, Zoom, inter alia and on one fine day if the phone of a college student goes haywire, his day is irretrievably lost. The suggested books, often published by International universities may not be available in public libraries and in most cases, buying them from the open market would be nothing less than a daylight robbery. This makes college students depend on the digitized version of such books, often made available free of cost, making social media like WhatsApp intrinsic to the education system. Social media, therefore, becomes a potential platform for sharing notes, suggested readings, dissemination of urgent information and repeated timetable alterations and it will continue to be so even after the pandemic. It’s simply similar to the concept of a mixed economy where features of both capitalism and socialism exist side-by-side. This relation with academics makes social media an unfathomable part of college life.
In toto, social media has now become an indispensable part of any college student’s daily life, serving as a virtual encyclopedia and as a potential stress-buster. Aside from the health concerns posed by it, it has been adopted by the current education system and now, debates are even made to make social media an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty. “Social Media: A Boon or a Bane” is one of the evergreen topics that are hotly debated for decades. Be it an English question paper of a 6th Grade student, this topic finds its place even in the UPSC interviews and columns of The Hindu. Whether it is a boon or a bane solely depends on your attitude towards the same. For instance, silkworms were given a boon to form a protective shield around them and it strives for its entire lifetime to create one and once it’s created, it loses its life by dint of its boon. A boon can easily be a bane and a bane can be metamorphosed into a charming boon. Therefore, social media can be a boon to some and bane to others depending on how they use the same. Utilizing social media in adherence to a systematic schedule and demarcating the boundary that separates academia and social media so that none of them hampers the time frame devoted to each other will make one a lucid, levelheaded college student.