Social media: Unrealised benefits & Obvious ‘evils’
Word Count: 1037
Time to Read: 00:04:08
The current social media generations have Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and whatnot at their fingertips. Social media is where trends perpetuate. It doesn’t take long for a trend to reach all corners of the globe if not instantaneous. Some trends are good some are bad. However, it isn’t just about trends. Posts can be helpful, rich or outright unwarranted and silly.
Facebook reigned supreme in the past. It is still dominating among the older generations from 2008-09 onwards. Do you remember Orkut? Yes, one of the earlier social media platforms perished in a puff of smoke.
It was the next best step after Orkut – which gradually saw users migrate from the old platform. The problem with Orkut? I don’t know but what I do know is – it didn’t grow. With the growing user base, Facebook eventually grew exponentially. They incorporated features that were prominently used and abused. The one I hated the most: was social gaming requests!
Here I talk much about the abuse and the other things social media is negatively and positively known for. Simple examples in this regard exist in the form of YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels. Short-form videos are very contagious and infectious that encourage getting hooked in a spiral. The central idea of such content is simple – how much would it take to hook a viewer to a 1 minute-short video and the next one, and the next?
Some of these short-form videos are good. Others are senseless. While some content exists that imparts knowledge. TikTok is an ‘excellent’ platform which I detest to the core! That’s why I haven’t mentioned it until now. I am sure TikTok may have some great content, fortunately, I am not into it.
The ‘obvious’ evil:
Short-form content isn’t regulated and is not actively monitored. The content on Instagram is not the platform you would expect from an entertainment perspective – it is more of a personal promotional nature. I will cover this later in the blog. The user is promoting self and other subsequent services aptly named as influencers. Other non-influencers attempts to make their reach possible. Others are trying to promote awareness.
Content on Instagram:
Video content on the platform cannot be longer than 10 minutes. It means that content cannot cover much detail as posted on YouTube – the foremost video-sharing platform. Instagram, on the hand, is a photo and video consumption platform. Yes, you can share it on another platform as well. But I am yet to see an Instagram short-form link on any posts elsewhere. The best part, it is integrated with Facebook.
It was initially launched for photographers to showcase their work. Now it is open for everyone who wants to share or showcase the images like photos, photoshopped skills, art, etc.
I cannot deny the ‘visual appeal’ of some Instagram posts. Some users post amazing video content like travel videos, car videos and many others like them.
I fall in the latter category making my presence felt across the media. It is needed so that I gradually build a decent fan base across three of my ongoing projects – Xyneohphoenyx.com, GamerPhoenyx and Nephoellym. I don’t have a personal account except for Facebook and Twitter, where I am seldom active.
The obvious evils are the posts that lack credibility, spread fake news and unregulated content that tends to sexualise the user unnecessarily, unwarranted explicit posts. The latter part needs parental intervention to monitor what their children or others are up to online. Unattended exposure could invite unnecessary harm.
Explicit posts cater to only a small fraction of the audience whose eyes hunger for some skin show.
It has given me a heads-up on what I cannot expose to my daughter regarding the kind of content available.
When is social media content ok:
Instagram and Facebook aren’t all that bad. It is the users who defeat the actual purpose of the platform’s intentions.
The Facebook user base is large. Its purpose (initially) was to help people keep in touch with each other where physical presence was impossible. Parents use it to be in touch with their children, relatives and friends abroad. Businesses locate their audience and increase their potential reach. Groups could build around like-minded ideas helping each other out.
The purpose for the right intentions does no harm. It is human nature that gives confidence for the unreported ill-intentions to perpetuate.
A good example is when riders and drivers break basic traffic rules despite knowing it is wrong. You cannot blame the vehicle as the platform but the rider or driver.
The attitude of taking a chance does not help here. Here, the administration and the people should take the blame. That’s why it is important to understand children’s online habits and for parents to monitor them.
The way forward:
Social media is easier to consume and difficult to regulate. The content is so huge that users must report the content to asses the validation. Not all users would do that. That’s because offensive content is not worded out clearly.
One man’s joke can be another one’s insult. Similarly, due to cultural differences, one post may not be offensive to another.
Parents monitoring it is not easy, but they can guide their children towards the positive and bad aspects of social media.
Posters must have some degree of moral inclination on what they are posting. For instance, YouTube has a requirement to classify content made or not made for kids. Perhaps, introducing such a feature on other platforms could help. Another boon could be on what kind of content does one like to see based on the age of the person.
Sensitive content is automatically blurred, warning the user prior to consumption.
Let the content arrive on the user’s feed based on his or her preferences. Absolutely nothing other than the ones listed in the preference must leak onto the user’s feed. This must be strictly followed.
A simple classification qualifying who can consume such content will go a long way in involving users towards self-regulation. Content is sometimes marked as explicit and blurred, but that is not a foolproof solution.
When any platform cannot moderate or regulate content, then self-regulation may be the only option left.