Are platforms such as Facebook losing relevance?
hen Facebook made its appearance as a social media platform, it took the world by storm.
Understandably, the countless millions that had no platform to vent their feelings and emotions were delighted. And so began an endless stream of photographs, posts, and worse, long-winded discourses.
It was just a matter of time before disillusionment set in.
Today, the statistics tell us that the new, younger generation are moving away from the much vaunted Facebook in preference to the more cryptic and to-the-point platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and others. Twitter in particular has gained traction by its imposed character limit that prevents long messages.
Facebook has, to them, become “old hat.”
This despite the more creative use of the platform for small and medium businesses by organizations and individuals. There were caricatures and lampoons of Facebook’s logo as being representative of the millions of users hunched over their cell phones at great risk to themselves in public places. Meetings and conference coverage would, nine times out of 10, find participants busy messaging rather than focus on the proceedings.
Today, more and more countries are imposing restrictions on the use of mobile phones in such gatherings. Some Western schools that have experimented with banning cell phones have found children to be happier and free from depression.
And proponents of multi-tasking now face up to psychologists that claim that the much touted ability actually reduces the ability of the brain to disseminate information productively.
Privacy concerns are another detriment to social media use, though it can be argued that it’s too late to act on what Google and Facebook stand guilty of, allowing personal details to be accessible without prior consent. This does in a way explain the flurry of advertising that floods one’s Facebook page and inbox, without a doubt feasting on the free flow of private data.
Technology has improved lives and provided easier access to information. On the flip side, it has also dented the very social fabric in reducing personal interaction. Even before cell phones became part of our lives, many corporations became active in having a no-intercom day by which individual employees were required to walk over to colleagues desks or work stations instead of using phones.
Today, there are companies that are playing around with no email days, again to encourage personal and face-to-face interaction. In both cases the reported improvement in productivity has been phenomenal. And far from using email and cell phones to improve productivity, experiments with shorter working weeks have been found to reduce stress levels among employees and actually achieve greater productivity.
For years, physicians have advised proper work-life balance for employee well-being and contentment. The advice was largely ignored by corporations. But now that optimum levels of achievement are being arrived at with requirements of a greater push, some have begun to listen to the science.
Whether artificial intelligence holds the answer remains to be seen, but there are many that are already questioning whether AI seeks to dehumanize the world as we know it.
Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.