Over time, I befriended with one of my classmates named Mohammad who is particularly interested in information technologies and social media issues. I interviewed him on his perceptions and reflections on the phenomenon of social media and its effects on our life.
My first question to Mohammad concerned the nature and role of social media in general context. He replied that social media are computer-mediated tools enabling people create and exchange information as well as ideas, interests, pictures and videos through in virtual channels and social networks. “These innovative applications,” Mohammad said, “are the produce of Web 2.0technological foundation allowing everyone generate and share user-generated content.”
Further, Mohammad claimed that social media have become a considerable part of mobile and web-based technologies that serve as highly interactive platforms through which we all share information and communities with one another. This means we are living in a new age of communication and technologies capable of favoring us with unprecedented outcomes. In this sense, Mohammad argued, “Social media are unlike traditional sources of media in various respects. First, they do not depend on time and geographic limits. Second, their quality is advanced. Third, they enable immediate reach. Fourth, they assume staggering frequency. Fifth, while being user-friendly, they attain the highest level of usability. Finally, they ensure permanent presence and stability.”
I do agree with all Mohammad says, of course, though I would like to know whether the expansion of social media influences imply any negative effects in his life. In his response, Mohammad took objective sense by claiming that social media is a double-edge sword assuming both benefits and hazards. He told me that he is an active Facebook user and holder of various applications on his smartphone. While such a vast variety of technological apps and social media channels surely benefit him, they also steal his time and energy. “It is fine when I use my smartphone to make an urgent transaction such as dialing a taxi, ordering pizza, booking cinema ticket, or transferring money online. However, I am not that optimistic about the permanency of social media in my life when I receive Facebook notifications while I am dating my girlfriend or watching a hockey game,” Mohammad complains. He further blamed social media for disabling him to concentrate on his priorities, namely studies. Taking his smartphone whenever he is often plays a dirty trick with him: “Rather than seeing my friends in person, I reduce to online chats with them. Therewith, we lose personal touch, something intimate between us we sensed years ago. With no seeing a person, lack of eye contact, we transform into artificial beings rather than humans. Along with social media applications, we turn into digital resources whose mission is to generate and share information.”
This last Mohammad’s confession sounds rather worrisome. His example reflects the sad truth about the whole generation of social media users meaning that most people just do not know how to use innovative applications in a smart way and save their time. I like interviewing Mohammad for his sincere answers and objectivity. On a broader scale, his reflections prove insufficient understanding of the genuine worth of social media in our lives. While most of us have smartphones and Facebook accounts, this alone does not automatically turn us into tech gurus, or enrich us financially. Quite the opposite, what social media does in a perfect way is that it steals our time and privacy. Rather speaking to people in person, we use artificial applications and platforms as substitutes of personal relationships. These trends adversely affect genuine friendships and close relationships between people.