Man/woman is a social animal, or, more apt for today’s world, a social networking animal. Sometimes, it seems, literally. Like most new inventions, social media is also trying to find its balance overwhelmed by its own bullet speed growth. It has opened forums of information, connectivity and development that are boundary less, limitless and seamless. Therein lies the challenge. The information highway is so fast and unstoppable that it is difficult to distinguish information from disinformation, connectivity that leads to dis-connectivity and development that many times becomes debilitating. Mediums like Facebook have become huge face and deface value; Twitter has created a new world of twitteratis with itching fingers; Whatsapp has become a huge reservoir of wanted and unwanted vidoes that “must” be shared; Instagram is a collection of selfies and hip hop wanderings. Many find all this “cool” till they catch the cold due to its side effects.

The reach and frequency of messages, visuals and graphics, that too at almost no cost, has made social media a most potent and addictive communication conduit. The virus of an attention gaining message is faster than bacteria in the body. A viral video, picture, voice note, graph reaches billions in seconds. Heroes and villains are made within clicks and microsecond timelines; information spills, sprawls and splashes on unknown shores; relationships look euphoric and tragic overnight - such is the impact of this medium - all flipping on the tips of your fingers. From personal lives of individuals to public lives of celebrities the power of information, true or false, becomes penetrative and impactful. Businesses have become digitally savvy to capture this addiction on the smart phone. However the ease of use of this smartphone make a lot of smart people do some very dumb things.

Take some recent developments. Sharmeen Obaid Chinnoy voiced her displeasure over a Facebook friend request of a doctor her sister had visited in Agha Khan. This created uproar on the social media where comments poured in. When a post becomes so popular even disinterested become interested to sound relevant. This forces the electronic and print media to cash in and report thus creating a hype that may produce unintended consequences. Sharmeen was giving her opinion on a certain behaviour which she felt was uncalled for. The hospital pressurized by the celebrity reach suspended the doctor. The reaction by the public on this suspension forced Sharmeen to accept that maybe her choice of words in the heat of the moment could have been better. This is a typical example of how flippant and reactive the ease of the use of social media is and how it can create images and perception that are not necessarily correct with some inappropriate results for all parties concerned. She spoke too soon, Agha Khan suspended the doctor too early and the public vented too fast.

Social media is also a big leveler. It is an amazing channel for bridging the gap between those with resources and those without resources, those who are celebrities and those who are not, those with a voice and those wanting to make themselves heard those who are powerful and those who are not on the power highway, those who are experienced and those who are raw. In many ways it connects the unconnected and speaks for the unheard. Families and friends all across the globe meet and chat up where none could imagine and stories of the missing relationships being renewed are heart-warming. In business terms the ability for young entrepreneurs to follow their dreams and passion through this media is awe inspiring. Uber is an example of how the ride sharing taxi industry has been transformed with the use of this platform. Even in Pakistan there are amazing stories of how girls and boys are starting business on net without having the start-up capital needed to set up tangible outlets etc. Brands like Blood Orange by a young entrepreneur Rabiya Abdullah who specializes in nightwear clothes is one example of treating Social media as a dream doer. Zaryab, popularly known as the ‘smartphone guy’ earns upto $630 per day through advertisements on his tech Youtube channel XEETECHCARE where he gives reviews on smartphones and influences buyers.

However the 3 Cs of Social Media; Commenting, Cribbing and Comparing is also affecting personal relationships. The race for maximum numbers of likes and shares has created an artificial world of virtual lives that do not match the actual lives. The urge to comment to remain “in” causes slips of clicks and slaps of comments that make or break relationships. The habit to crib and bash to vent out frustrations makes people exaggerate their dissatisfactions. The sad cyber bashing of Mahira Khan’s private pictures is an example of a community that is so cruelly click happy that they are completely insensitive to the damage they are doing to people concerned. The desire to post happy go lucky poses at home and work creates huge amounts of unwanted comparisons between couples and co -workers who imagine that the rest of the world is so much happier and blissful at home and in the office than them.

A UK divorce site has quoted 33% divorces being triggered off by Social Media information. The most extreme example was the rather turbulent breakup and makeup of the marriage of the British boxer Amir Khan. Rarely has a relationship been so publicly paraded on social media. The couple started commenting on each other on the most wild of Social media platform i.e twitter with a reach of millions to the unknown. Amir’s wife Faryal was open about her comments about her in-laws and the exploiters in between must have made the best of this opportunity by adding fuel to fire. The whole world followed the up and down of their relationship where they accused each other of infidelity, apologized, fought, divorced and then made up on tweets. These tweets were followed and retweeted so many times to become huge trends to be broadcasted on electronic and print media. Such public splashing of a relationship can ruin the lives of many families and their associated networks. The Technological advancement that social media has unleashed is phenomenal but to understand and benefit from this innovation we must remember that social media is less about technology and more about sociology and psychology.