AS the online space grows bigger, broader and deeper, and also noisier, it is not easy to discern and interpret issues on it. While privacy is tossed up in the air with fakes governing the matrix, it has provided safe and inexhaustible space to raise voice and opinions. Both safety and threat are mingled in the cyber environment. If you are on it, you may have an idea about the wonderful attributes of social media. A hashtag trending on Twitter can become news the next day, provided it has news value. What is trending today is not trending tomorrow, which means today is more important than yesterday. Every issue is trivialised.
The changed dynamics of social media manifest itself in the last decade, with the availability of the Internet at a cheaper rate than before. Introverts, extroverts, and all rank and file have found a safe space in the hashtag. From #MeToo and #Timesup to now #CAB or CAA, it is easy to target your audience which is fragmented. Breaking the big story with the help of a hashtag has far-reaching consequences and effects. Since we cannot register and start a hashtag on anything and everything, we have to select an attention-grabbing element. A word has a meaning in a sentence, and a sentence has a meaning in the paragraph, but a hashtag has to be a phrase or a word for immersive, interactive and receptive purposes.
It has been over seven years since I joined social media, but its surprising power has grown considerably, leaving people baffled. The emission is continuous, uninterrupted and giving us a sense that something is happening round the clock, even when we are sleeping or doing an activity. It is seeping in us a fear of missing out. We are creating hashtags like #JOMO (joy of missing out) to counter the anxiety. In the age of hashtags, nothing is personal, private and permanent. Now that everyone is on social media and trying hard to engage with one another, businesses are also launched on social media with the conscious slanting of hashtags in a popular culture.
A reflection of society, social media is changing. People are adapting to the fast changes. How does this change us? It is making us more image-conscious and managers of our impressions online. We are not what we are portraying ourselves online. It is a thing about social media that it has drawn everyone. Everything is a hashtag and it is our way to express our emotions: pain, grief, happiness, headache. Divided into the world of atoms (physical) and world of bits (digital), we are both digitally and physically present. Digitally, we are safe till no one actuates the process of regulating it. Physically, we are safe, till we are voicing our thoughts and acting as per norms of social conduct. A constitution that contains rules written in hashtags might solve the dangerously irresponsible technology, such as face recognition or deep fakes and cheap fakes, but it will be left far behind in the Internet matrix that has become self-governing and growing.
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