Traversing down the memory lane, somewhere around the year 2000, the world had begun to reap the real dividends of globalization. The explosion of the dot com bubble in the United States happened to be a major milestone in the history of the human race. During this time, the competition amongst various powerhouses driving the market rapidly intensified and corporations began to post record profits. With phenomenal economic success being achieved and with an eye towards greater growth, work hours became lengthier and jobs became more challenging. It was at this point in time when concerns were being raised over the future of the social wellness of the human race but just when things started appearing blurred, what unleashed next happened to be the most dominating and bizarre byproduct of the dot com bubble which stormed the entire world like a whirlwind. The birth of social networking sites like MySpace, Hi5, Bebo, Orkut, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and a host of other such sites reiterated and reestablished the fact that social interaction and communication are and will always be irreplaceable, irremovable and indelible aspects of the life of humans during their prolonged stay on Earth. On one hand, de-regulation and globalization cornered people in their offices and on the other hand social networking sites helped individuals in giving birth to another life of theirs on a platform popularly referred to as the virtual world. Features ranging from posting messages and content to sharing photos and videos became immensely popular within no time. For how long will this juggernaut or bandwagon of social networking sites go on is up to tech-soothsayers to prophesize but the current obsession of the masses to such sites vindicates the fact that these sites are here to stay.
While the initial portion of this article kick-started with a mentioning of the benefits courtesy globalization, what is going to link this article with its latter portion is a sort of a reality check which exposes the evils of globalization which served as a lead up to a number of tumultuous events. The global financial recession was propelled because of the actions of a numbered few but its repercussions were felt everywhere. Economies plunged one after the other and nobody was spared. Companies crashed, jobs got jeopardized and the entire world economy was battered. People in several countries suffered because of this mayhem and what doubled their fury was the inaction and incompetence of ruling regimes and governing governments. It was time for retribution and what resulted were popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya along with popular anti-corruption movements in India and other parts of the world. Social networking sites played a pivotal role in such movements and their laudable as well as condemnable use in such movements is going to be described ahead.
Social or political movements generate because of the convergence of the growing dissent of the people. Social media helps in the organization of such events. A simple message clearly indicating the date, time and venue of a gathering or a protest is read and seen by millions who eventually turn up. Social networking sites are ready made centres of idea propagation because of their mass appeal. To make any movement a success one needs to mobilize support and for that what needs to be ensured is that the objective of the movement is clearly brought forth the public. Social networking sites are used by all and leaders have rightly exploited certain features of these sites to the benefit of their movement. The blogging feature of such sites helps individuals to provide lengthy descriptions of their movements, ideologies and objectives. In case the article is thought provoking, it becomes a net sensation within due time, spreads from user to user and resonates worldwide. There is no denying that even today, a world which claims to be a self appointed protector of democracy and liberty happens to indulge in widespread censoring of the press. In many countries, the government commands an absolute control over the media which results in the press becoming the spokesperson and mouthpiece of the government. In such political set ups, social media emerges as an unbiased, independent platform which helps people broadcast their views freely and hence in case of a social movement it helps people to express opprobrium openly and encourage others to voice opposition against injustice which ultimately leads to a strong show of solidarity. It also helps in exposing government brutality as videos of government clampdowns on protestors are openly posted to invoke anger among others.
It’s pretty evident that social media is a very powerful tool and in instances pertaining to social movements it helps in communicating information, organizing protests, mobilizing greater support by serving as a base for free propagation of ideas, exposing government brutalities and wrongdoings, providing a platform for opprobrium and expression of independent opinions etc. But it isn’t utilized in the most positive way always. This technological asset is used in the most improper way when messages are passed urging anti-social elements to collectively pour into a place and create a ruckus. While social net working sites were used as a weapon by Tunisians and Egyptians to peacefully topple dictatorial regimes, rascals and scoundrels in England mis-utilized them to organize crimes, spread riots and looting. Every product has its set of pros and cons and social networking sites happen to be no exception. The use of social networking websites in such an extensive way, sometimes productive and sometimes unproductive, proves that people don’t just use such sites as a substitute for physical interactions with their friends and acquaintances.