This is the era of hyper-communication, where no social media post or message is complete without a GIF or an emoji. Millennials are sure to have not experienced life, friendship and love without involving Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. From relationship updates to selfies, the Indian youth seems too nonchalant and too eager in exposing themselves to the world of social media. They are not shying away from socially announcing their love, hate, a proposal, and even a break-up to a community which connects them to the world of infinite.
With 50% of our country’s population below the age of 25, India has the largest percentage of the millennial population and tops the list in comparison to China and Japan. With more and more educational institutions moving towards smart classroom and IOT, the Indian youth have started living a virtual life and their friendships, love, breakups, and makeups are all on the social media and they are going overboard and sharing much more personal information than required.
According to a report, the usage of Twitter among teens in 2011 was 16% but has reached 24% recently. A recent study revealed that up to 91% of the youth posted photos of themselves which were previously 76%. While 71% of them post their school and city names which were 61% previously. 53% of the youth are known to have posted their email address from the previous 29% and a whopping 18% increase from the previous 2% in cell phone number updates.
While technology, with its artificial intelligence and machine learning, is helping a man achieve in leaps and bounds, the downside of it is that it is creating havoc in human relationships in more ways than it is doing good. The question to ask would be how much is too much? Recently, a 25-year old businessman in Pune put up about 300 posters around the Pimpri Saudagar area apologizing to his girlfriend, and the poster even had the pet name of his girlfriend. He later ended up paying a fine of rupees 72,000 rupees to the officials for the nuisance created. So entire Pune became aware of the quarrel between a young couple and the pet name of the girl involved.
Relationships, feelings, and even random thoughts were once private emotions and sacred. However, the expression seems to be the order of the day in today’s social media friendly age and everyone believes in expressing their thoughts and whims in order to sub-consciously gain social validation. The youth has begun to look at expression as a way of life and failing to express is more like a non- existence of the feeling and a dangerous way of living. The expression is not limited to relationships alone and has gone beyond that and has begun to affect the lives of the younger generation in more ways than one.
Five girls hailing from a school at Arasampattu, recently consumed poison and got hospitalized because they found their names on a graffiti outside their school wall with expressions of love for them. While expressing feelings is a great idea, is the youth today is going too far with their WhatsApp status, Instagram pictures, and Facebook updates? We are living the tragedy where we don’t have anything to say to the person sitting next to us but are sharing every thought that crosses our minds on social media for likes and recognition.,
‘Personal’, ‘Private’, ‘Intimate’ are all the kind of things that are disappearing and changing the way relationships are looked at. Youth, today has started to recognize expression more as a way of life. Cyberbullying, gossiping and trolling has all begun to push today’s youth more and more into depression, lack of confidence and self-esteem and they are beginning to believe that expressing emotions and everyday life events is all a part of normalcy and failing to adhere to it makes them feel useless, which can eventually lead to a different kind of issue altogether.
The virtual life has begun to feel like the real world to the youth today and feel depressed when they are not able to do the daily Instagram updates. Staying abreast with the latest trend, using the most updated version of the gadgets, branded consumerism is all leading the youth to move away from real life. Staying connected has become more like a normal life and away from it makes the youth uncomfortable.
Parents, on the other hand, are trying hard to stay updated and worrying more and more about the safety of their children. The image shares and personal updates on social media make for more strangers to be aware of the personal life of the youth and the parents are beginning to get uncomfortable about the privacy part. Technology seems to be the lifeline of youth, considering their studies, research, hangouts, group, friendship and relationships are all stuck to the virtual world and separating the virtual from real is posing a challenge to them.
The educational institutions are all focusing more towards fieldwork, grading based on socially responsible behavior and inculcating more offline study in order to promote the physical and geographical centric ideas to students. However, with the IOT, creating a balance of the virtual and real world is posing to be a challenge on the whole.
Health issues apart, extreme usage of social media is actually causing the youth to move away from being invested in real relationships, emotions are all out on the block and making the youth vulnerable to countless situations which can otherwise be controlled if not fully avoided. Expressing anger, love, care, liking is all at the fingertips and the youth is not really thinking twice while uploading their personal pictures or pushing their thoughts into words. An Expression is definitely good but are they really thinking about the when, where, why and what are not really the kind of questions they are asking themselves and this is, in turn, leading them to heartbreak, lack of self-esteem and false status.
The expression of thoughts is so high that the filter is almost non-existent and the Indian youth thinks expressing one’s thoughts as freedom of expression. Expressing their thoughts without really giving it much of a thought about how it could hurt or demean someone, or what kind of an effect their posted message could have is all making them less appreciative of the real things and are perilously moving towards becoming fake to a large extent, posing a threat to themselves, their loved ones and their future.
Extreme use of gadgets, lack of physical movement is leading to a lot of bottled up energy in the youth and a lot of them find it easy to hide behind the computers in their closed rooms and demeaning someone seems like fun, easy and reassuring.
Cyberbullying and vulnerable to sexual predators online are only the tip of the iceberg, since the extremely high usage of virtual world and an increased usage of emoji in expressing themselves more than necessary can be damaging both the personal and emotional life of the youth thereby resulting in a lot of problems that could have easily been avoided by a careful expression of feelings, and thoughts.