The Virtual World is What You Make It

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“One bite and all your dreams will come true.”

Err…Maybe not. But is it really necessary to view everything like Snow White’s apple? Or fear the consequences of eating the forbidden fruit? Fear is one the most natural instincts humans have and the need to be constantly suspicious of things has been distilled into our childhood right from the fairy tales we grew up hearing that involved wicked witches and child-eating monsters to religion dictating consequences of not abiding by the rules!
“We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'”

In fact, humankind’s first reaction to new things has always been fear, take for example the greatest and most ancient technology ever discovered, fire. An element with an immense capacity for destruction, tamed to suit the purpose of humans. Be it to cook or to burn great cities to ashes, fire could be used either way. The power to use it lay with humans, to be used as desired. With that we come to the most modern technology we possess today. The Internet and social media. Like the many threats of fire, the social media space comes with its many risks, cyber bullying, stalking, impersonation, hate speech, the list is endless. Does the social media platform itself then become bad? No. It is the people who use them who make it what it is. Technology provides us with a platform, how we use it is entirely up to us.

Social media platforms today have gone beyond basic networking and information sharing spaces, they are now being used to bring about social change. Numerous like-minded people are coming together on social media to campaign for a cause. In the news lately has been the story of a vada seller in Coimbatore who underwent a leg amputation and did not have the financial capacity to pay his medical bills. What happened next was overwhelming for him and incredible for the nation to behold. What started off as a group of people messaging each other on WhatsApp and deciding to pool in and raise money for his operation, went on to go viral on Facebook where donations started pouring in from across borders to help him and his family. While this was a contribution by philanthropists for a man in distress, another is an example of a mass uprising in a nationwide campaign to protest the lynching of a Muslim teenager suspected to have been carrying beef while travelling back home with his family with gifts for Eid. This campaign called ‘Not in My Name’, seeks to agitate against numerous such communal incidences being carried out in the name of nationalism.

Social media has thus engaged millions spreading information, ideas, creating communities and support groups that sustain people in need from around the globe, and taking action against social evils, by giving people a voice and providing an audience that will listen. Social media can be overwhelming in its enormity and a scary place at first, but what it creates is an extension of your own world where you learn to stand up on your own feet, connect with others, and use social media for what you believe in, to make the world a better place.

The world is full of possibilities, so do we stay shut at home afraid of stepping out? No. We arm ourselves with the tools to take on challenges we may face, take guidance from those more experienced than us, and we forge our way forward to explore the world in all its awe-inspiring beauty. The virtual world is no different. So go ahead, take a bite of the apple, and live to tell the tale!

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