Where are we in the age of digital media? – OpEd – Eurasia Review
The digital media revolution in the 21st century is one of the most amazing phenomena we have witnessed so far. He has transformed the lives of people in all walks of life. For example, if you have to learn something new, open YouTube, type in the keywords and within seconds many pages, channels and videos appear at your service.
Likewise, if one is to keep abreast of the latest fashion trends and branding strategies, one should follow hashtags on Instagram. If one needs to find the latest news and events and connect with prominent academic communities, Twitter is here. What is the future of such platforms in the next 100 years? How do they affect our social identity and where are we headed? What impact do these platforms have on our social lives? Is it just a tool to generate the economy and cripple people, or will it make sense of our lives? While there are a large number of digital media apps that everyone is associated with in one way or another because they have easy access, a simple interface, and are easy to use, these apps have created a dichotomy in our view of the world. . In the words of Henri Tajfel, a British social psychologist, social interactions can instill meaning in our social situations.
In today’s world, social interaction is more prone to virtual worlds than to physical interaction. Thanks to globalization, people living in various corners of the world have smartphones and internet connections to keep in touch with family and friends. However, serious questions are looming in society. With increased access to apps like Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, etc., we lose our connection to nature, socially created norms, politically established rules and laws, and economically generated values.
The eminent psychologist in the field of psychology, Ivan Pavlov, has produced extraordinary work on classical conditioning that has focused on how animal behavior can be controlled. He introduced conditional and unconditional stimuli to animals, which allowed them to perform actions like eating when exposed to these stimuli. Likewise, in the same way, we humans are also subject to this method of conditioning. For example, when our smartphones beep, we are conditioned to pull our smartphones out of our pockets to check notifications to see if people liked the photos and videos posted on Facebook some time ago. Likewise, sitting in a cafeteria with friends, when one of them pulls out their phone, we all do the same and look for texts and phone calls. They are unconditioned stimuli. Such behavior is so intact that we feel addicted to digital media applications. This dependence is worrying.
Moreover, with the increased use of social media, we are losing our identity. Identity, according to Henri Tafjel, is the fundamental belief in who we are and to which group we belong. Language and culture are the main motivations for shaping its identity. However, with the advent of digital media, mass media has undergone a transformation. Not for who they are, but to be known to others for something they are not. Famous apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., give men the freedom to be who they want to be and have made them socio-technical slaves.
How are digital multimedia applications effortlessly accessible? Infrastructure and platforms give us the freedom to do what we want. Lisa Park and Nicole Starosielski, in their book “Signal Traffic: Critical Studies of Media Infrastructure”, underline the social, political and cultural implications of communication networks (Internet, television and telecommunications) by studying how they distribute messages in space. and time. The objective is not only to study the means of communication, but rather to show the material transport of information (signal traffic), which reframes the traditional questions of production, circulation, access and communication. political regulation of the media. Likewise, the platforms are the result of intense work on infrastructures. In the past, we have seen several Internet companies, generally described as platforms, reach the scale, essentiality, and level of use typically achieved by infrastructures before. Google and Facebook are perhaps the most compelling examples of this infrastructural evolution of digital platforms.
Facebook started in 2007 as a student repository app, but as a platform it provided people with timely information. As such, we can communicate with our friends and family wherever they are considered to be located. Consider that in the old days, when technology was not readily available and there were no rapid means of communication, people had to wait for telegrams and letters. Facebook, like many other apps, provides online communication to people (connectivity).
Access to data and knowledge is at your fingertips, thanks to Facebook. COVID-19 is the last dramatic chapter of the 21st century. This event inspired digital media applications to make institutions and organizations more accessible. Online surveys and posting of precautionary measures to users to combat the deadly virus are in themselves a success for the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) in general, and Facebook in particular (datafication).
Likewise, the learning process has been simplified. There are many pages of different genres like food, travel, adventure, sports, and crafts that people learn from. Due to the large number of advantages that Facebook enjoys among many digital media applications, there are still challenges such as identity crisis, impression management, etc.
First, Facebook users are not safe in the world of cyberspace. Their data, which includes their photos, videos and recordings, is all available on their profile, which can be used against them. One of these incidents took place in Azerbaijan. In November 2019, the Facebook page of political activist and public figure Gultekim Hajibeyh was hacked. His followers have been removed from his account and derogatory remarks have been posted. However, his account was later recovered but incidents like this are cause for concern in the future.
Another downside of being associated with apps like Facebook is a waste of time. Facetime is a feature used to describe spontaneous use of an application for long periods of time. Young people, who are the backbone of every nation, are wasting their time using Facebook and other apps. This complex socio-technical process changed society and the real purpose of their lives.
To critically assess the phenomenon of the identity process in this socio-technical process, human beings have lost the true meaning of life. Nowadays, men and women are more concerned with how they are viewed virtually. They’d rather be liked on digital apps rather than talk. The real meaning and the real joy in life is when you do something right and feel like you are doing it again, not whether someone likes it or not.
The advancement of digital media has made people’s lives miserable. They are in no man’s land. According to a media and society survey, 75% of people upload their photos and videos just to be recognized. Digital media is also manipulated by the wrong people to create chaos and panic in society. Digital multimedia applications have undoubtedly had an impact and footprints on our lives. However, the impressions they make can wreak havoc in people’s lives. Nations and their institutions must ensure the best means of controlling the use of these applications, which have the power to change the perception of fragile minds. Similar efforts must be made to give both sexes the respect they deserve.
*Sikandar Azam Khan is a research officer at the Balochistan Think Tank Network (BTTN).