It’s not anymore news that the electronic media sector has graciously welcomed another section in its day-to-day operations known as the social media otherwise referred to as the “new media”.
In recent times, social media have seemingly dominated the information world. It is conspicuously distinct from other existing media networks – including the print and broadcasting – in various ways.
It operates in a dialogic transmission mode – many sources to many receivers – in contrast to print and electronic media that operate under a monologic transmission mode, one source to many receivers. It can simultaneously connect as many sources and receivers as possible.
There are numerous positive roles of social media networking in nation building. Though it’s a relatively new advancement in technology, it has made the world seem like just a minute clan owing to its ability to simultaneously connect millions of people from different localities across the globe as well as spread news within a shortest time frame.
Hence, it makes information go viral that it could be assessed from any locality. It enables one to reconnect with his or her old time friend or schoolmate. In addition, it helps people to stay connected to each other at all times.
Social networking is a great way to meet entirely new individuals and entities. One can easily discover persons or groups that are into his social/business interests. Online dating is currently more common than the traditional pattern of dating, and it’s worthy of note that many happily married couples today met online.
On the other hand, social media is at the moment the fastest and easiest way to promote goods and services; and it gives such products a different dazzling look, thereby encouraging the audience to patronize them.
Entertainers these days don’t need to be on television or radio before they can be heard. They can globally market their brands online with ease. The most fascinating part of it remains that the brand in question would be known by countless countries within a twinkle of an eye.
Social media equally helps to catch and convict criminals. People are usually ignorant of the consequences of what they post online. Oftentimes they post, albeit ignorantly, pictures or videos of themselves doing illicit things. In the same vein, they also place bragging posts regarding various ‘minor’ crimes they have committed.
The law enforcement agencies invariably visit these sites towards fishing out the bad eggs as well as to trace a suspected culprit. The sites also assist the agencies while prosecuting any suspect in their custody.
However, it’s imperative to note that there are equally negative impacts of social media on mankind and the society at large. There are several falsehoods on various social media platforms; such information or propaganda can stir up panic and severe misinformation in the affected area.
For instance, in the 2019 general elections conducted in Nigeria, the social media were deeply involved in misinforming the people as regards collation cum announcement of election results, which remains the statutory obligation of the electoral umpire, thereby overheating the polity.
Although they help to start new relationships, they have on the contrary succeeded in ruining or terminating various other existing relationships. The ability to easily share people’s privacy, such as nude pictures and videos, on social sites has constituted several nuisances in people’s real life. It suffices to say that it puts trust to a limit.
Cyber bullying is not left out. Having access to people’s lives at all times is not encouraging, because such avenues help many online fraudsters to lure their potential victims into their net, hence taking advantage of their vulnerability.
Sometime in Nigeria in 2012, one Miss Cynthia Osokogu was reportedly cajoled to a hotel room via social media. At the said venue, she was brutally gang raped and thereafter murdered by the fraudsters. Similar ugly and untold stories had been heard countless times in various localities across the globe. In the same vein, people are duped through social networking under the guise of ‘buying and selling’. The fact that you are not seeing who you are conversing with is enough reason to worry.
Prospective employers use social media to scrutinize, and consequently discriminate against their intending employees. They would delve into the profile of the jobseeker and by doing so, would acquire all the needed private information about him or her. Employers always use this mechanism to their advantage and in most cases, to the detriment of the applicant.
One of the greatest plights attached to social media remains that people are fast becoming addicted to it. This kind of craze causes a lot of distractions for people in their respective fields of endeavour. Many people invariably sleep on the platform on a daily basis.
More so, social media is not always reliable as regards availability. This may be due to temporary failure from the network providers. Sometimes, it could be a worldwide phenomenon emanating from the central server, as it was witnessed a few days ago when there was an outage of some of the platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. Any of these experiences may occur when the platform is mostly needed, hence the need for the teeming users to always have an alternative means of communication within their reach.
On the other hand, most people while conveying messages on social media prefer using symbols, smileys, abbreviations or what have you, to writing words in full. This syndrome, which is an aberration, has gone a long way in causing a great decline in the people’s grammatical ability.
Hacking is another worrisome factor that can’t be overlooked while discussing social media. Internet hackers can intercept your account under a certain guise or by gaining access to your password. Considering that most users of social media aren’t professionals indicates that people are liable to constantly fall victim.
It would be ideal to regulate the day-to-day usage of social media with a view to sustaining decency and legality. All stakeholders to include families, communities, schools and religious bodies are required in implementing the proposed regulation.
The leadership of the above key institutions can institute a law binding the users of social media within their respective jurisdictions. The parents/guardians, for instance, can determine when and where cell phones should be used by their wards. Self-control will also help to avert several misfortunes that could befall the users of the platform.
Above all, individuals, groups and corporate organizations are advised to maintain a complicated password on their various accounts and endeavour to change it regularly, to avoid hacking.
Social media is undoubtedly a viable and remarkable platform for all forms of communication and information dissemination, hence its existence needs to be upheld. However, the intrigues, intricacies, technicalities as well as technologies of the platform call for holistic caution and wisdom while deploying its use.
Though the merits of social media cannot be overemphasized, it’s worth noting that their wrong usage can result in colossal loss. Think about it!