In the light of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal - which has brought to light a severe violation of people's trust and privacy - it is time to take a long hard look at social media in general.
Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become such an integral part of our lives that leaving them seems unimaginable at times. They have become a part of our daily routine, a part of our lives, and even a part of who we are. Shaking such deep rooted habits is not easy - and the platforms themselves make it as hard as they possibly can for you to escape their grasp.
There are many examples of people trying to leave Facebook but realising a plethora of their most used applications are connected via their Facebook ID. Similarly, WhatsApp has now become an official medium of communication - which makes leaving the platform impossible for many.
WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are no longer conduits of meaningful social interaction but toxic havens of misinformation, clickbait, propaganda, and brand marketing.
Social media started off as a hassle-free tool for people across the globe to connect with each other, share ideas and interact in an affable manner. Long gone are the days when people used to put just vacation albums on their Facebook profiles, have group conversations on Yahoo Messenger, write on their friends walls and have interactions with people they actually knew and cared about.
When was the last time you opened your notifications on any social media platform and saw meaningful posts from people you actually have any semblance of interaction with. Social media is nowadays riddled with posts from publishers, brands and these so called 'influencers' who live in the grey areas when it comes to ethics.
From tools of social interaction, these platforms have become a marketplace in disguise where brands strut their stuff via influencers and sponsored posts. They have become news portals with publishers trying to outdo each other in coming up with the wackiest - and in effect the most sensational - headline in order to entice users to click.
Social media platforms have also become extremely complicated. They now give you the ability to make calls, send photos, set up photos and videos as statuses - labelled as 'stories' - and much more. This all-encompassing nature makes them addictive and hard to live without.
Akin to an addictive drug, social media can easily ensnare you in its wraps. It will either make you feel very good about yourself or aggravate every insecurity and misgiving you have ever felt. Social media anxiety is a very real disorder in today's times with people more invested in the virtual world than reality.
With misinformation, propaganda, and fake news perpetuating left right and centre, social media is fast becoming a vile and toxic place where social interactions are being buried under a mountain of brain-numbing nonsense. Apart from the social network's own policies, there are no regulations or any system of checks and balances in place to control spread of malicious information.
You are the product - and everyone wants their message, product, or brand to reach you. Your data - that you have knowingly or unknowingly signed away to the social media platforms - is theirs to sell to third parties. At the end of the day, the social media of today has become a business platform - be it for overzealous groups trying to spread a message, business trying to push their product, content creators pushing highly well-packaged and appealing articles that do not really inform, or marketing agencies trying to make their product 'trend'.
'What's on your mind?' Sadly, no one really cares anymore. On Social media, that is. Put your smartphones down, shut down your computers and talk to your friends and family, and you'll likely find they actually do care.
Dystopian shows like Black Mirror show a future where social media takes over reality and starts dictating one's standing in the world. Seeing how the platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and WhatsApp are taking over the world - with people signing over their privacy and data blindly - we are not really far away from that reality. It's time to sign out.