Social networking platforms have swept the globe. They have played a vital political role in the recent past and even sparked revolutions. However, there have been numerous concerns regarding their impact on our daily life. One key issue that has been disregarded is the impact of social networking sites on the youth's worldview.
The adolescent stage shapes a person's worldview, personality and moulds them into the person they will become in the future. Unfortunately, they are growing up in a world where their popularity is directly proportional to the number of "likes" and "....have commented" on a Photoshop-enhanced profile picture, and they live in a world where people are constantly competing for the coveted title of king/queen of the virtual world, which is bound to have a profound impact on the psyche of the entire generation.
Our young generation's emphasis and time spent on developing a "brand" on these social networking sites is a living testament to the emergence of narcissism in them.
At any hangout or get-together, people spend more time snapping photos and updating their status than actually enjoying the event. Within an hour, the images are uploaded, and the torrent of "likes" and "comments" begins.
As a result, social networking sites and the society they have spawned are breeding grounds for a conceited, self-absorbed younger generation. We forget that on these sites, we get to choose who we want to communicate with.
So, before we get cosy in a shell of the false sense of unwanted self-importance, we should reconsider the legitimacy of the opinions on these sites, but most of us conveniently forget this.
On the other hand, all of the time, effort, and clicks you put into shooting that ideal shot are wasted when your friend's photo receives more attention.
On one hand, when vanity grows, some people lose their self-esteem due to their lack of online fame. When did we get so petty that our virtual world began to dominate our real lives? Are we that stupid to allow these things to affect us?
Another consideration is the lack of personal space. Things that were considered individual one generation ago are now completely public.
Every move we make, every step we take, and every relationship we form or destroy is broadcast through status updates, wall posts, and tweets.
In an attempt to keep up with the current fashion of publicising sensitive details of our lives for a few minutes of attention among a few hundred individuals in the virtual world, we are violating the sanctity of our personal space. It is worth considering how healthy of a trend this is.
This is not some gloomy, condescending "waking up call" from an old fashioned, dull person from a previous generation; it is simply an account of a teen seeing the world around me get possessed by the spirit of social networking. This is my perspective on the cultural and philosophical renaissance these sites have ushered in for my generation.
Do we want to remember spending time worrying about an unattainable world where we are judged on how we "portray" ourselves when we look back on our adolescent years later?
Do we want to be seen as vain, self-absorbed people who stress over the tiniest of details while completely unconcerned about the world's greater and more serious issues? Do we want to be uneducated teenagers who know nothing about the world and do nothing useful?
I am confident that deep down inside, every one of us wants to envision ourselves contributing to a better tomorrow for our careers, society, and the planet.
The world has been changed by social networking sites and social media, bringing us closer than ever before and making life easier than it has ever been. We can take advantage of this and put it to good use for a better life and tomorrow.
It should be used to connect, remain in touch, share ideas, and not waste time. There was the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age, all of which were pivotal periods in human history. It is up to us to decide how the virtual age will be remembered in history; school is their second home for children.
Yemad Fayed Ahmed is public relations professional
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.