Herald: Is he alive or dead? Go online to see status
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Is he alive or dead? Go online to see status

18 Jun 2017 06:46am IST
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18 Jun 2017 06:46am IST
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When local goons beat up Mumbai tourists, social media exploded with comments and visuals of the ugly incident. The media only followed, while the twin impact forced the CM to react angrily. Cafe figures if you are not on this virtual highway, you are nowhere

Team Café

Long time no see, means two different things, in two different worlds, depending on which generation you are in, But even that seems to blur, as ‘seeing’ is only believing if social media certifies you. You are as alive as your last post and dead as a dodo, if you are offline. And today, it is your newspaper, music store, love guru, fitness instructor, marriage counsellor, kick-boxing coach, nutritionist, right upto your sleep counsellor, after you finish your graveyard shift.

While the tentative timeline of how and when social media took over our lives and made us absolutely dependent may not be known, there’s no shying away from the fact that life without Facebook, Instagram and Twitter seems impossible. From being a humble medium meant for connecting with friends and family, social media platforms over the years have expanded their reach to prove that there are practically no restrictions to the use of these virtual platforms for personal or professional gain.

The 2014 national elections are one of the biggest examples of the effective use of social media for youth engagement on a big scale. Ever since then, social media has all but replaced mainstream media as the primary source of information. The youth makes extensive use of social media for consumption of news, sharing ideas, conversations and much more. This makes social media a very viable space for political parties to converse and connect with the youth. The state elections that happened a few months ago bear a testimony to this, as it saw Goan youth consuming all things related to the polls through social media in a big way. Even on a daily basis, various groups on Facebook and Whatsapp have become virtual battlegrounds, where supporters of political parties and ideologies clash and argue, to dictate and dominate.

The video of the recent assault on tourists in Merces generated an emotional reaction to the incident, including from those in power. The image spread quickly via social media. Reuben Fernandes from Margao says, “When a large population is connected online, there is an immensely powerful force. Hence the kind of pictures and videos that are shared becomes very important, with regard to the message that is directly or indirectly circulated. As Uncle Ben Parker said: ‘With more power comes more responsibility.’”

Another important aspect of social media has been the fact that it has changed the power structure of old media. Brands are well aware that the youth spends most of its time in the virtual world and hence, along with spending a decent sum on traditional advertising across print and electronic platforms, brands now rely on their association with bloggers to make their voice heard. Sumit Mehra, a marketing professional working with a reputed international company, says, “A very high percentage of the online population trusts information it receives from bloggers, and an equally high percentage of these people go on to purchase an item or service a blogger recommends. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools and engaged followers are likely to share content across social channels, which is a key element for successful brand awareness. It is not as popular in Goa yet as it is in the metros, but we are getting there.”

While social media has undoubtedly made a lot of things quicker and more convenient, it leaves much to be desired when it comes to personal privacy. A few months ago, a 21-year old girl from Salem (Tamil Nadu), committed suicide after her morphed images appeared on Facebook. Cases like these bring to the fore the perils of these tools which when misused can result in disastrous consequences. Roshni Adpaikar, a teacher from Ponda, says, “Experts and social psychologists have often stressed on points like how users should know the potential risks of what they're posting online. Photographs are no exception. At times, one may find it hard to judge strangers they meet in person, and it's even harder to tell friends from foes online.”

To sum it up, the virtual world is an exciting yet tricky place to be, where there are virtual flowers to express love but you also share space with virtual weapons used to spread / combat hatred. Social media is a window where people can peek into your personal life. But if the window is absent or if you’re not active on social media platforms, you do not exist. Period!

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