IT was not until the 1990s that we began to witness the full force of the Internet revolution. Its growth over the years has become complex and has profoundly affected our lives. The internet band-wagon did not single out anybody – ordinary persons, bankers, students, parents, teachers, politicians and even child abductors make use of the World Wide Web. It seems like you either get connected or become neglected.
Undoubtedly, the Internet has redefined the word ‘convenience’, it has transformed the way we behave and affected human interaction. According to the Comscore World Matrix index, an average Malaysian spends about 226 minutes on social networking sites per month. Facebook accounts for 77.5 per cent as the most popular social media platform followed by YouTube, Friendster, MySpace, Tagged and Twitter.
These platforms, once thought to be the dominion of the younger generation have suddenly become the medium of choice for wide ranging demographics.
Henceforth, businesses flourished. We got reconnected with friends. Many found their life partners. We share what we eat and how we feel almost instantaneously with our cyber buddies. We applaud the empowerment and the connectivity that it provides.
While we appreciate that the internet and the social networking sites have helped improve our personal and professional lives, we are also wary with the consequences that it creates. The younger generation in particular has become over dependent on this 21st century marvel. Early signs are quite obvious — Generation Y today has face-to-face communication skills which leave much to be desired. Many are more comfortable interacting on social media platforms, not realising that an over dependence on such platforms robs them of the critical skills in human interaction. Words and languages too will very likely become corrupted as we indiscriminately alter them to suit the popular culture of text messaging and social media lingo. We upload and download images indiscriminately and, under the guise of anonymity, many have tested the limits of free speech.
Entrenching Social Responsibility: Good social values among users seem to erode as social media providers improve on the available platforms. And without a doubt the ethical issue often raised is the question of accountability. There needs to be a balance between being a responsible cyber user and a human being that conforms to acceptable social norm.
Fortunately, there are still areas that seem to resist the cyber revolution. A human touch is more likely to contribute towards very compelling customers’ experience rather than technology, and the introduction of whatever media in the future would still require a visionary output of an able leader.
At MSU, the students’ development in leadership and entrepreneurship is given priority. Accessibility to various social media platforms is within easy click since the entire campus is wifi linked. Like others, Facebook, Twitter and the YouTube are tools that we engage to help enhance the student university interaction. We balance the web accessibility with the learning experiences aimed at developing their individual talents and skills.
Decades from now, the net effect of the over dependence on new media can have far reaching consequences to the socio-economic front. We must effectively manage the barrage of these communication choices. We must not let it control our lives. True, their emergence has helped simplify lives and has put us on sound footing to compete. But the lines have to be drawn somewhere so that human interactions are not dictated by these distractions.