We are living in a world of communication. We can communicate anything and everything, from one place to the other, to any Tom, Dick and Harry. Social networking is only a miniscule part of communication. It is a sophisticated tool primarily meant for socializing with friends far and near through Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. They are means to catch-up with the latest. With the fastest boom surfacing in internet technology, networking has become accessible and affordable. Social networking acts as a vehicle for subsequent sources of information, both locally and globally.We are living in a world of communication. We can communicate anything and everything, from one place to the other, to any Tom, Dick and Harry. Social networking is only a miniscule part of communication. It is a sophisticated tool primarily meant for socializing with friends far and near through Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. They are means to catch-up with the latest. With the fastest boom surfacing in internet technology, networking has become accessible and affordable. Social networking acts as a vehicle for subsequent sources of information, both locally and globally.
Social networking is the largest connectivity instrument in the world. It connects people who are living at a distance and brings about closeness with our families and friends. It is the nearest thing to being there! Social networking is for society and it connects people with society. It is a cheap means of communication which is accessible to all. A person can get all the information through his or her cell phone. A message is sent from one person to another in an instant. It is an efficient way to create mass awareness. People of like-minded groups or any individual can create a page by which he/she can share news that grabs the eye balls of his viewers. In social networking a large variety of news and information can be shared irrespective of time and place where as in print media or newspaper, the news is not as fresh as what we find in our smart phones. News shared in social networking does not require investment unlike the news paper. The news which comes in social networking is considered real. It does not involve a third party in editing the news. Information on television or news paper can be manipulated, where as news on social networking cannot be manipulated; it is because the person himself is the editor and publisher. News on social networking is not time bound. Once the news is published, a person can access it at any time. Social networking incorporates a multi-cultural and diverse variety of ethnic groups sharing and exchanging ideas and also communicates the socio-political and religious phenomenon of a particular class. The posts in social networking are open to all. The viewers can give their opinion and can pass comments. In social networking, posts are mostly seen as a work of encouragement, empowerment, constructive criticism and a fight against some rituals of our way of living in society. However, this can be misused at times too!
The level of information or news shared in social networking websites is open and not thoroughly monitored, which affect minors due to ignorance and curiosity in moving much deeper into the subject which can lead them along the wrong path without proper parental guidance and supervision. It has an adverse impact on youth, students too. They can be friends on social media which further leads to video chat and video calling. It also creates a virtual reality and traps the person in this. In social networking, the right to privacy is guaranteed but fraught with risk factors. The private nature of information given may be converted into public. Sometimes false and vague pieces of information are circulated which can create havoc among the viewers and users. The incorrect or less researched pieces of information circulated through social networking can create misunderstandings within the social circle. Social networking also consumes a lot of our valuable time. People spend sleepless nights chatting with their friends. It is like a double-edged sword: it may appease our human senses but it can also harm the body and some cases, could lead to abuses and the like. Sometimes teens may watch disturbing visuals which affect their mental balance and physical health. Social networking dilutes one’s capacity for creative thinking and makes room for emotional based information. Sometimes it also takes the form of a phobia with people becoming psychologically imbalanced.
Therefore, the use of social networking unites people, positively, and also divides people, negatively. People have to use it intelligently. Social networking does not have a yardstick to measure its usage but certainly these three fundamental principles of moral virtue will help the users to browse the social network websites constructively.
Credibility: To be credible means to be a person whom we can believe in and who is worthy of our trust. From an ethical perspective, credibility is the point of authenticity in our dealings with others and our full membership in the moral community. So people have to use things in as much as they help in personal and communitarian growth.
Integrity: Integrity is also crucial to moral maturity. True ethical fitness demands integrity. People should have a discerning power to use things in such a way as to discern what is right and what is wrong. People of integrity should be proactive in determining the course of action and take sufficient measures to understand it from justified point of view.
Civility: civility encompasses an attitude of self-sacrifice and respect for the other. Communication has to be ethical and socially responsible. People should learn to respect the freedom and sanctity of persons.
Ranjith Kerketta SJ
[ Ranjith is a student of theology at JDV]