Social Media: Are we missing out on its potential?

When social media began taking steps of infancy, people found a channel to voice themselves, tell their life stories and share their opinions. Popularity of giants like Facebook and Twitter helped in bringing the world closer and forever changed the face of the world. Even though each passing day brings advancements making it easier for us to stay in touch, are we really connected??

Less than 15 years ago, most people had just one or two email accounts, texting was tedious and costly, and mobile phones were primarily used to make, well, phone calls. Now, people have more than 7–8 social media accounts and multiple email ids. Chunky mobile phones have been replaced by pocket computers that constantly buzz notifications, pulling their owners away from face-to-face encounters with other human beings into a constantly churning social networking vortex. People complain of not having enough time to make a phone call, yet they have enough time to procrastinate for hours daily on social media.

While social networking definitely has its benefits be it professionally, personally or politically, having so many channels of communication has overwhelmed our ability to thoughtfully interact online. We speak in the language of “likes” and “emojis” nowadays, simplistic as they can be, these have stopped people from even putting the effort to make a thoughtful response. We have stopped challenging our cognitive abilities which has resulted in a generation “dumb”-ing down after each passing day.

And to further worsen this, social media is now used for spreading false information,hatred and propaganda. Everything that can be blown out of proportion here, probably will be. Politics has taken the forefront here(Trump’s election and the current Indian Political scenario are big examples). I see random articles with no sources, providing baseless rumors as facts and masses feeding off these articles and spreading them like viruses. Instead of discussing ideas and opinions freely and thoughtfully, people are forcefully imposing them onto each other, asking them to take sides on every matter when by now we should know that most choices in life are not as clear as black or white but are rather grey in nature.

Over the years, I have seen some of the possibilities that proper use of social media can provide us with. Unfortunately, instead of talking about ideas and innovations and having healthy discussions which could lead us to a better society and a better world, we have turned social media into something else.

I can keep going on here but I don’t see any point . I will just come to the reason why I am writing this article and it is not to critique the current usage of social media.

Last week, I saw a video on Facebook talking about the benefits of coating the pavements and street with a white paint and how it can help in reducing global warming. I realized that we also keep seeing such videos on our feed from time to time but they are generally overlooked or seen and forgotten. This made me think if I could just pick such ideas and start a discussion around them, may be discuss the feasibility and potential of such ideas and innovations, let others also get involved in this discussion, it would definitely be a better use of social media. We can take such ideas and at least try to make it into something bigger!

With the hope that it motivates others also to discuss more ideas and innovations that can help create a difference, I am planning to start a series of articles here on Medium, that would talk about such ideas and their feasibility one by one.

Suggestions and ideas are definitely welcome. The more we discuss and talk about these things, higher is the impact that this can create.Would appreciate words of encouragement to keep me going!

P.S: This is my first article on Medium, in fact my first ever attempt at writing anything that did not relate to academics, work, picture captions and status updates. So, for all the grammar Nazis out there please pardon me for my writing skills!