Trapped in Virtual Reality | Sunday Observer
Is social media bad for you?

Trapped in Virtual Reality

26 December, 2021

Social Media is a timeworn concept now. But it is the keyword we cannot part with today. It is shaping our life and times, perhaps to an extent of a mechanised human in a digital humanity sphere. Digital Humanities surfaced during the mid-2000s as a discipline studying the technology used for human accomplishment. Social Media is the realistic outgrowth of that phenomenon.

The problem, therefore, is simple. Have we achieved any accomplishment? One operational definition of accomplishment is knowledge organisation. The knowledge organisation has become an easy option in the digitalised environment.

That the social media is a powerful communication medium is beyond the question. Not only the urban oases, but the distant hamlets are now moulded according to the social media dictates. And here we are the human species filled with awe over this digital revolution we are witnessing right now. On that account, this transformation has modified the way humans interact with each other especially in the communication sphere.

Primary conflict

And much more glorification has already been done on social media. But that must not let us ignore the primary conflict. The world is facing a conflict. This is a definite factor becoming a harsh reality day by day in a world filled with unrest, agony and other miserable sentiments. That forces us to pose the question once again: have we achieved any accomplishment?

In an encounter with communication expert Professor DharmaKeerthi Sri Ranjan, the Sunday Observer attempts to explore one facet precisely visible on Social Media: authorship. A chronological comparison is required to assess the social media authorship.

Before the technology (visual or electronic medium) the most convenient communication sphere was the physical newspaper. This traditional communication medium had temporospatial restrictions. The space was limited. Not many had access to authorship. The expression was very much restricted. The little expression that existed, therefore, mattered in terms of depth, insights and wisdom. Not that the authors were standard scholars, but their contents exhibited a certain erudition. That led to what is now apparent: the creations remain classics today having stood the test of time.

Severe changes

Enter the digital transformation, and these temporospatial restrictions were to be deleted at a steady pace.

“The communication sphere has undergone severe changes in the contemporary global society. Technology has superseded geographical and cultural restrictions. Communication seems to be a conquering factor thanks to technological advancement. Communication has become a strong element in human society. We cannot see human action and interaction without the intervention of advanced communication. Social media has become a process based on technology,” Professor Sri Ranjan said.


He adds that social media has existed ever since the inception of human civilisation. Times have changed, technology has transformed, but the human remains with stagnant emotions longing to mitigate solitude, isolation and boredom. What is now keyed on Facebook walls and other social media platforms can be likened to the narration of folk poems in times past. What is now posted on the YouTube platforms can be likened to the folk drama played out on some elevated stage.

“Folk art is the quintessential expression of the human communication process. It is the conscientious form of the process. The influence of culture, society and environment was very much evident. Still, the space for their expression was limited. This limitation instilled enhanced quality in what they produced,” Professor Sri Ranjan said.

Measuring quality

Both the earliest and the contemporary humans suffer from boredom. The expression is the offshoot of that inescapable sentiment. But the contemporary human enjoys the freedom and space to lay out the expression whereas it was a mere luxury for his earliest counterpart. Everyone can express today. If this expression can be counted for enhanced quality is the question. How can this quality be measured?

“We enjoy folk poetry and other art forms even today because of one strong element, creativity. Because of creativity, they have become classics. They have withstood time. In quantity, they are small. The fact that we enjoy them even today speaks for their quality. We feel the pulse in an ancient work of art. Can we say the same thing about what is produced on social media today? Only a few contents can be considered creative, while the rest are produced merely because there is space and everyone can take part.”

Adverse effects

Lack of creativity is not the only unfavourable condition. The wholesale contents produced on social media have other adverse effects. Professor Sri Ranjan lists such conditions.

“We can see youth in relation to the social media. Most of their contents represent their literacy level. The contents lack depth because the authors do not have a sound command of what they express. Worse, they represent a sexually frustrated generation. Sexual frustration on one scale, and the venom or anger and hatred on the other. These contents are not only lacking in creativity, but they affect humanity adversely.”

Freedom without limits has generated many conflicts and issues. It has led to an expression without discipline. The very temporospatial restrictions that existed in the past vouchsafed creativity and depth to human expression in the past. Human literacy is evident on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, but the enhanced quality of the very literacy is questionable. Social media is the mirror of society. It tells us the story of a degenerated society.

A waste of time

“We can simply ignore this phenomenon if it does not affect human development. But its behaviour has a negative effect on development. It curbs our materialistic development, let alone spiritual development. Time is a very important aspect of development. What social media does exactly is destroying our time. We waste time on social media losing our primary focus of human development.”

The focus of human development is a macro area affected by micro factors such as social media. Virtual reality has changed everything. The reality is no longer what it is supposed to be, but a man-made reality. In this man-made sphere, time and space have evaporated along with many other important elements.

If there is an approach to reverse this, only humans well-conscious of this eventuality would be capable of that.

“The world is now transitioning in a back to basic approach. The developed countries in the West have gone some distance, while the Third World countries have just begun the journey. The journey is not going to be easy, especially because we are clueless about our destination in this reversal approach. We are more likely to become victims than succeed. But that must not keep us from trying because we have no future with the degenerating effects of technology.”

Virtual or real?

Knowledge organisation is a major involvement in this transitional process. Information we receive as well as send needs to undergo some filtration. The traditional knowledge organisation practice adopted in libraries, archives and museums will be useful for this approach. The physical library is more meticulous than the Google we have today. Whereas Google provides us with all information, the traditional library offers filtered information. Filtered information may read a nasty term for the ‘right to information’ freaks, but it saves us the trouble of fake and dis-information.

That explains the presence of firewalls and other whatnot placed to filter information processed via digital devices. They are helpful as gatekeepers. But then the technology itself is producing antibodies to bypass these gatekeepers. As long as technological advancement takes place such moves are inescapable. But a well-conscious human can stay stable without becoming a victim.

That is a fundamental requirement if we are to steer clear of the conflicts and issues manifested by sophisticated social media. That will reshape our understanding of what constituted our own history. It will open broad new avenues to a well-manifested progressive future.