With the advancement of technology and the passage of time, the field of “Social Media” and its influence has expanded and flourished. What began as a place for people to express themselves, share their experiences, and meet new people from all over the world has evolved into an increasingly important forum for addressing socially and politically relevant issues that affect the lives of people all over the world. The claws of social media are so powerful that it is now thought that, because of its inherent strength, it has helped bring the world closer to us, right at our fingertips. Contrary to common opinion, and in light of current events, we must increasingly doubt the influence of social media.
The growth of social media has been measured not only in terms of the number of users worldwide, but also in terms of the number of channels and features available. It has also become a forum through which millions of people can access and obtain information about social and political issues and movements as a result of its development. As a result, the form of contemporary political movements and demonstrations has been formed. The #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements are archetypal examples of how modern-day protests are organized on social media, demonstrating the amount of political participation and interest that can be generated on the platform. Given that thousands of people post their social and political views every day, such a knowledge overload creates a great deal of uncertainty, which in turn influences the perceptions of millions of people who read these posts. Hence, a query arises, ‘Can you blindly accept any news that is shared on social media? ‘Because what we think of as facts or news could just be a piece of someone else’s opinion on a given topic.’
The terms “momentarily” and “fad” can be used interchangeably to describe modern-day social media movements. While it is simple to raise awareness about a significant social issue, both of these movements follow the ‘bell curve.’ When the ‘Black Lives Matter’ (BLM) campaign erupted on social media, for example, it caused an instant uproar and drew everyone’s attention. People were not only vocal about their views on racism, but they were also supportive of the campaign. But, after #BlackoutTuesday, what happened? People resumed posting memes and other standard material. Within a few days, the movement that had gotten so much coverage overnight had faded from users’ feeds. When Black Lives Matter became popular, people began using it as a motif for photoshoots, makeup inspiration, and creating ‘Tiktoks.’ The movement’s objective was totally changed, and it was relegated to being a “feature of the month.” When these factors are considered, the feasibility and viability of using social media to raise political and social problems is called into question. Although it empowers millions of citizens and highlights sensitive issues, we now see that it often disempowers people and reduces the sensitivity of the issues it represents.
When it comes to demographics, ‘Millennials’ and ‘Generation-Z’ are the most active users of social media. It has become a hotspot for them to express themselves without filters. The only issue with this culture’s promotion is that it has started to incite a lot of hatred among people. Previously, we had incidents where social media saved the lives of people who needed saving, and now we have incidents where it takes the lives of people due to the amount of hatred it can generate in a split second. While there is no mention of a second chance on social media, there are plenty of unsolicited opinions. Let’s take the case of someone who hasn’t been exposed to bigotry and has an uninformed view about it. On a social media website, the person posts something about his personal opinion. After receiving criticism from others, the same person chooses to reflect and reconsider his position. The individual recognizes their lack of sensitivity and re-posts. People on social media will call it hypocrisy outright, and there would be no space for a normalized response to a shift of perception that may occur as a result of new facts and realizations. This same scenario plays out on different social media sites on a daily basis, and it can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health.
While social media has many advantages, such as bringing the world closer together in multiple ways, we cannot overlook the differences it has generated among communities and people. The term “socializing” has taken on a new meaning in today’s world, and the days of people meeting up and interacting are long gone. Social media has rapidly transformed activism into ‘slacktivism,’ and this fact makes us doubt its viability as a forum for discussing social or political movements, because, while we may think we are making a difference, we are ultimately supporting the ‘clickbait’ mentality, in which anything is viewed as a passing fad.