Social media: Harnessing mind controllers

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By – Rashmita Kashyap

In little more than a decade, the impact of social media has gone from being an entertaining extra to a fully integrated part of nearly every aspect of daily life for many. The reality has been compromised with the stardom of fancy filters. The merging of digital and physical worlds have raised concern about the possible damages it might cause, making it tricky to predict which way it will morph next. In 2007, Jonah Berger, the author of the famous book “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” argued that “Facebook might not be around in 15 years. I’m clearly wrong, but it is interesting to see how things have changed”.

In 2004, Orkut had consumed the market of India and Brazil. The name “Orkut” conjures a feeling of nostalgia among a section even today, in large part due to Orkut being their entry into the world of social networks. However, the fever of social media was soon taken over by Facebook. With time Facebook became the largest social media network in the world, with one billion users as of 2012. A lot of modifications have been done with the evolution of technology and that’s when the mind game started. Status and post updates became our priorities and the reactions became our affection. In 2009, while people were busy posting updates on facebook, Jan Koum and Brian Acton brought up a new idea for connecting the worlds. Yes, it’s WhatsApp. Now People are again driven away by this new technology. These attractive features of the new technology have the control over status updates, and even draw margins with the enemies or you can be the secret viewer. However, the technology didn’t stop here until the invention of “Instagram” in 2010 with the greed for hashtag-fancy media filters. Eventually, Facebook took over Instagram and WhatsApp for a shockingly heavy price, considering it to be the largest acquisition of a venture backed company in History.

The advent of social media has taken a new turn on the psychological pathways. In one way or another we are being controlled by the social network. Now we have the option to hide status from our foes and manifest them to our intimate. We are being bothered by the blue ticks while we have the chance to block. And then we are fascinated by the “read receipts” and we believe to achieve “Moksha”.  Meanwhile, Instagram played the trick to give special importance to “close friends”. Social Media has become an emotion where people started expressing their varied emojis. Machines, using data from our digital footprint, are better judges of our personality than our friends and family. While “twitter” has become a platform for celebrities. Our Social rank and reputation has replaced the ideology of life. Yet, the term “addiction” itself remains potentially problematic. Some use it to earn money and some use it for fun. It will be a long day to particularly identify the pros and cons associated with addiction to social media.

Can we free ourselves from this box? Is it possible to go outside the network coverage area? Can we breathe without oxygen? Of course, the possibilities are nearly zero. Factors that predict excessive use include an increased tendency to experience negative emotions, a need for self-promotion, being unable to cope well with everyday problems, loneliness and fear of missing out. But again we can still limit the time. Those lines, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul” by William Ernest Henley have depicted a special impression on our “Will power”. The digital world has a lot in its bucket list and we are yet to discover the “unknown”.

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