The advent of the social media has brought about many exciting possibilities. I still remember a time when, as a young man studying in the United Kingdom, I would write to people at home and would pay for airmail delivery. It used to take one week for the letter to reach home. If the addressee responded promptly the round trip for the communication was two weeks, a far cry from today’s situation where communication to any corner of the world is instant.
Whether you use Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype, Twitter or Instagram, you can reach anybody at any spot on Earth instantly. What is more, you can reach many recipients with your message in a single operation. With the old mail system, it would mean writing as many letters as the number of recipients and dispatching them each to a different address. Life has been made ridiculously simple, thanks to the inventors of the Internet, the World Wide Web, the Touchscreen and other supporting technologies, which have made instant communication possible.
But as we celebrate the achievements of modern technology, we have every reason to mourn the loss of originality by the majority of the users of these technologies. It is ironical that these highly innovative technologies have, by and large, bred anything but innovation and originality in the end users. In fact to talk about lack of originality is an understatement. To be blunt, the social media has bred laziness among its users, generally speaking.
People do not bother about correct spellings or correct grammar any more. That is spelt as dat, this as dis, you as u, because is shortened to coz, and the list of mis-spelt words is endless. The justification, of course, is that the alternative spellings are shorter and therefore do not take as much time as the actual spellings to type. Be that as it may, it is equally true that many people do not know what the actual spellings for some of these words are. I have seen students’ assignment or even examination scripts containing some of these funny spellings.
What is even more worrying is that many people have lost the ability to put ideas together. They find it a lot easier to post somebody else’s material than their own. Many posts that I have read on many Whatsapp fora are simply forwarded, not originated, by the senders. I find it very annoying that people do not bother to cross check the facts presented in the posts before forwarding them.
I recently saw, in a number of Whatsapp fora, a warning about an impending earthquake. Now, humans have not yet invented technology that would enable them to predict earthquakes, as they do rains or hurricanes or even solar eclipses. Such posts are created by scaremongers to induce panic in an unsuspecting audience.
The post warned of high radiation between 00:30 and 03:30 hours during the night, and urged people to turn their cell-phones off. Rubbish! The source of the radiation was said to be cosmic rays that would pass close to Earth. To begin with any cosmic rays passing close to Earth would have no impact whatsoever on the inhabitants of Earth. In fact, cosmic rays, rather than simply passing by Earth in close proximity, rain on us all the time. Their origin is believed to be outer space (outside the solar system). When they hit the top layer of our atmosphere, these rays, which are basically high energy particles (typically hydrogen or helium nuclei) degenerate into secondary, low energy particles which reach the Earth’s surface and cause no harm to plants or animals.
Four times in as many years I have seen a post which urges Christians to pray because churches have been burned in India by extremist Bhuddists. “Tonight [they] want to destroy more than 200 churches in Olisabang province. They want to kill more than 200 missionaries within the next 24 hours”, continues the post. You check with any credible news source and you do not find any such news. These are posts that keep resurfacing after going the full circle. In some of such posts, people alter some minor detail to make to story sound credible. There is a post about young ladies appearing before a respectable gentleman in miniskirts, and the gentleman telling them that all treasures on Earth, diamonds, gold, rubees, among others are always hidden way below the surface. In one post that gentleman was Muhammad Ali, in another post it was the chairman of a meeting and in yet another it was the “boss”.
Search within your social media habits, dear reader. Do you originate any new material or you simply pass on what you get?