The first-ever existence of social media space dates back to 1997. Since then, social media has evolved much. It encompasses the sharing of thoughts, ideas, photos, videos, and the formation of virtual communities. Alongside, new concepts of human rights, freedom of speech, and community standards are all due to the advent and use of social media spaces.
With fast-paced life and families becoming less connected, many turn to social media to find alternatives ways of socializing with or without family and friends. The development of social media sites provided an opportunity to remotely connect with distant relatives. On the contrary, it is also accused to be one of the reasons for family networks to collapse.
In the past few years, researchers and social scientists have started to term social media as one of the modern-day evils accusing social media of breaking up family ties. Much debate is generated on the harm than good virtual networking has done. While the world is busy discussing ways to improve social interactions and to minimize the use of social media, Covid-19 hit the world and it has hit hard.
Just in days, Covid-19 became the most contagious disease with no cure available as yet. The only way to control this pandemic is through controlling social interactions. The world started to shut down. Schools, offices, businesses, factories, parks, shopping malls, salons everything except food production and hospitals closed down. Those deemed essential started to operate with strict standard operating procedures. Social distancing becomes the new normal. In most countries, you can’t even go out of the house if you do not have a valid reason – this reason can either be going to a hospital, buying groceries or for work only if it is related to health or food industry.
People all over the world turned to social media for networking, virtual meetups, and generally to pass time. We see TV stars, sportspersons, politicians, and general public presenting themselves on social media giving insights into how they are spending time in this lockdown. Some are helping in house chores, some are cooking, some are playing, some are dancing, some singing. We even saw celebrities sewing face masks for free distribution among the working class. This will become another debate if all these virtual showcasing activities are for real or not.
It is important to note that everyone is using the infamous social media to connect with the outside world. This is no surprise. It was to happen. Data gathered from 17 countries across the globe give great insights into social media and its usage. Overall social media consumption has significantly increased by 24% as indicated by GlobalWebIndex (GWI). Surprisingly, This increase is seen as uniform in all age groups and not just youth. GWI shows if 58% of 16-24 year-olds are spending more time on social media, a third of 55-64 year-olds are doing the same.
Youth and adults are two groups who can make independent decisions on the use of social media and the Internet. Children are usually given allocated screen time that is strictly monitored. With no going out whatsoever, children are the worst hit group in this pandemic. For them, it’s even harder to understand why there is no school and no playdates. Parents while stuck in the work-from-home scenario, find it much easier to give in to children’s demands of more screen time to keep themselves free of domestic engagements. In children, screen time is increased exponentially although not all of them might be social media users. Meaning they watch more tv and spend time on internet surfing through the web or watching videos on youtube.
Although we all notice that the communities are thriving for much improved social media engagement during this pandemic induced lockdown. We see healthy competitions, meaningful conversations, collaborative activities on social media spaces. Another positive of this virtual connection is to provide even closely living friends and families a way to communicate. The presence of social media has proved to be beneficial for mankind in this time of crisis.
This practice of increased social media usage once in for all negates the efforts done to minimize social media usage. The lockdown does not seem to be going away too soon. Even if it does, the social distancing practices will be observed in day to day dealings. In retrospect, we don’t see that the use of social media will reduce in the near future. If it is going to increase further. We don’t know as yet.
What would be the future of social networking? With this new norm of social distancing, will we not able to go back to warm physical interactions we used to have? Will social media be able to fully replace physical meetups? How to Buy Instagram Followers UK? What will be the long term effects on our relationships? These and many similar questions have started to surface arising from the current situation. We don’t have answers to all of these questions. Maybe we have.
Social networking is the new routine. To the point that we now need time to concentrate and recall how we interacted previously with each other. To understand what social networking holds for the future we just need to wait and see as the situation unfolds itself.