Abhay Tiwari is the founder of Sambal NGO. He is also an author, educator, motivational speaker, a business consultant and entrepreneur. He spoke about the power of social media and how it can change people’s lives with our Group Editor Vaidehi Sachin.
What is your own definition of Social Media?
For me Social media is a platform to share content, opinions, insights, experiences. For individuals it is a way to connect and share content with friends, politicians, journalist and like-minded people. For businesses it’s a way to look into what people are saying about their brand, product and services. For Politicians it is a platform to connect with their constituents.
Is social media a major threat? Is it boon or bane?
Social Media is a power of people and just like any other power, even this platform comes with its share of threat issues. Today we talk about social media threat, spread of misinformation which can be done both unintentionally and intentionally. Yes it is a threat if organizations, be it political, corporate, or governmental, spread fake information through a fake profile, making it appear as though it came from a grassroot movement or an individual, in an attempt to gain legitimacy for themselves or smear their opponents. We need to identify it as a serious lapse in the ethical conduct on the Internet, and as a potential threat to the open and constructive Social Media. According to me it is boon if we use it with some responsibility.
Do you think social media is fueling communal passions?
No, it is being fueled by some political parties to gain caste based vote, although social media should not be used irresponsibly, it should not become a platform for those trying to foment trouble. There is always a need for an oversight mechanism to control the spread of misinformation not only on social media but every media. Blaming social media for fueling communal passions is a way for government to come out from their law and order responsibilities.
Do you think social media propaganda can really benefit politician or political party to get voters to polling booth?
Yes it can benefit politician or political party. This is because, at its most basic, politics is about people. It’s about communicating with them and delivering a message. What better way to do this than through a medium such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube? Traditionally, politicians have relied on letterboxing pamphlets, mail-outs and public advertisements, and while these can be effective, they’re also costly, time-consuming and often require significant manpower. Social media removes these barriers and provides an instant method of connecting with the electorate.
Sharing information about oneself has become so easier with the help of the social sites?
Yes, Social media has brought about a hyper connectivity that was unimaginable just 20 years ago. The voiceless suddenly have a voice that can be heard throughout the world. We can stay in close contact with our friends even though they are on the other side of the world. If we find something interesting, we can share it with our friends and start a conversation around it within minutes.
Teenagers are becoming more socially awkward and growing up having no sense of manners in a public forum?
The impact is both negative and positive. There are some good things that come out of social media for our teens, but it is true that Teenagers are becoming more socially awkward and growing up having no sense of manners in a public forum. Social media has allowed them to take their life online and instead of saying goodbye to friends at school and waiting to see them the next day, they just go home and jump on their favorite social media network and interact with them for the rest of the day.
Teens today who are highly engaged in social media are having an identity crisis. Not all of them are, but many teens are someone else on social media than they are when they are with their family. Social media has made it easy for teens to not be consist and have a “double life.” Every day I see students who tweet and post things on Facebook that totally contradict what their parents, or others that know them personally, think of them. Social media has and is changing the way they live.
The problems this new online society creates are not going away and will continue to grow. Parents must get off the sidelines and get involved! They have the responsibility to protect their children and be aware of what is going on in the online world. Investigate and help your child adjust privacy settings.
How social network has benefited you in your growth in all aspirations?
Using social media, I am able to interact with people around the globe. Social Media, also allowed me to express my thoughts and ideas through writing blogs and notes. It gave me a platform to speak on various burning issues and deliver the fact finding at root level. At the time of Anna’s movement against corruption, people started talking against Democracy, against Parliament and against our Judicial system, I used social media like youtube, twitter and facebook to educate people about the power of Indian Democracy, dignity of Parliament and value of our Judicial system. I wrote few article explaining advantages and disadvantages of Lokpal bill, through social media I was able to deliver my message to aggressive Indian youth.
Do you think social media will ever dominate or overpower main stream media?
No, Social media cannot dominate or overpower main stream media. Social networking reshaped worldwide communication significantly increased the speed of news spread, and connected the world stronger than ever. Although social networking has been such a revolutionary invention for the society, and many researchers have turned towards social media to explore trending topics, mainstream media still remains as the origin of the majority of the news discussed in social networking sites.
Do you agree that people have lost contact with the real world after being on social network?
In my opinion social networking sites on one hand provides a way to connect to our dear ones on the other hand it becomes danger for our culture and society.We spend too much time on social media it is the technology, social media has no fault in itself, we should have control on ourself whether we use it with wrong intention or good. Social networking sites are made to help you connect with others any time. But it depends on how you utilize it. We as a society have become so engulfed in social media that we are failing to realize the level of dependency we now have for it. We are getting addicted, and just like an addict we have built up a tolerance that requires more of the drug to keep us satisfied. Even worse, just like an addict we cannot function normally without being on the drug.
Social network is an addition to the 21st Century Society?
If someone spending too much time using Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media — so much so that it interferes with other aspects of daily life, surely it will become an addition. There’s no official medical recognition of social networking addiction as a disease or disorder. Still, the cluster of behaviours associated with heavy or excessive use of social media has become the subject of much discussion and research. Addiction usually refers to compulsive behaviour that leads to negative effects. In most addictions, people feel compelled to do certain activities so often that they become a harmful habit, which then interferes with other important activities such as work or school. In that context, a social networking addict could be considered someone with a compulsion to use social media to excess–constantly checking Facebook status updates or “stalking” people’s profiles on Facebook, for example, for hours on end.
Describe the disadvantages of social network.
One of the major disadvantages of using social networking websites are the students get addicted to it, they used to spend hours in those websites which can obviously degrade the student’s academic performance. Using social networking sites till mid night or even more which can obviously lead to health related problems. Spending too much time on Facebook, twitter or other social networking sites keep us away from family members. Some people may provide detailed information like phone numbers, address which is very dangerous because they can be easily tracked down by strangers.
What are the advantages of social network?
Social networking provides a great way for you to stay in touch with people who may have moved away. Normally, people try to stay in touch with friends via phone calls and the occasional letter or e-mail, but busy lives make it difficult to maintain contact. However, social networking is such a regularly used medium that it’s easy to stay in touch with people even when they move away.
You can use social networking to get feedback on ideas immediately, or to ask questions and get answers quickly. If you’re developing a product or even just an idea, you can bounce it off your friends and social networking contacts and find out what they think about it. You can also ask questions and receive answers in near-real-time, if your contacts know the answer or if you’re a student in touch with teachers.
What is your message to our readers, those who are on social network?
Social media has the power to make the world a better place, and social media success will come when you use it with responsibility. Maximize the use of social media for awareness and social growth. While at work or with family, limit the time you spend attending to your social media sites, don’t get addicted to it. Use good judgment about content and respect cyber laws. Do not share personal or confidential information. Do not use language that is threatening, defamatory, illegal, obscene, infringing, harassing, abusive, hateful or embarrassing to any person or entity.