Is social media inherently a selfish medium

To begin with, social media could be proclaimed to be the biggest game changing outcome of the Internet Age. From a humble beginning of Myspace to Orkut and then to the industry giant of Facebook; it gradually developed into other forms like Twitter, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Weibo, Instagram etc. In the core of any of such platform, the idea remains simple :- To develop individual’s relationships and networks into an entity which could be exploited. Yes, exploitation was always in the core of ideology behind social media’s core structure. Each platform exploits this intrinsic character of human nature to make a profitable venture out of human relationships. In the process, instead of being a connecting medium and a platform to project one’s opinion; it has transformed into the biggest showroom in the world. And us human beings have become its greatest asset who by engaging the more, allowing our own exploitation the more, make these platforms one of the richest companies in the world. The currency here is individual information, preferences which we collectively call as big data. “The more they share; the more profitable we become” was a tagline used by one of the CEOs of the biggest social media firm.

Internet in the beggining was always seen as a product of the “Counterculture”. movement. It was supposed to be a free and unbiased medium where the unheard and the unknown could raise their voice. Become a relevant part of the community. Give positive constructive inputs. It was supposed to be a medium of empowerment. A medium of engagement of the everyday people who were sidelined by the 1% making decisions in their names; disregarding their voices as that of a crowd. Social media was supposed to be the tool of that “subaltern class” who could not have a medium to project their views. People could have divergent views. Dissenting views. Alternating views. But people had decency, civility and morality while engaging in a conversation.

Gradually as more and more people became associated with it; somewhere the golden rule of civilisation in the form of morality was lost and people started to develop “Self Centric Narcissistic Behaviour”. Instead of being rational and educated with their opinions, they started believing in a self-righteous glorification. Where their limited knowledge was the only supreme knowledge. Their views became myopic and self-centric. People were not willing to engage in a meaningful debate and agree to take opposing views as constructive criticism. This led to a culture of slandering, abusing, trolling, shaming as weapons of social media annihilation. They became emotionless and compassionless.

In the era of “Post-truth”, whatever they knew or got to know, became the truth. Element of selfishness and self-centred culture is the chief component of “post-truth” ideology. People manifest theories, ideas, believes; create a sense of legitimacy through social media and project it onto others as the only possible variation of truth with no element of dialectics. This culture became to be celebrated around the world, to the extent so much that we can take the case of American President Donald Trump. He is the greatest example of this ideology where self image and projection on social media became so important and significant that he actually used it as a tool to become the President of the most powerful nation in the world……..

Dr Mursal hails from Dashipora Shopian and can be reached at sana.malik@gmail.com