Narayan Prasad Ghimire
Communication means express or share message with others. It is conducted in one-way and two-way method depending on the purpose. It intends to draw reaction and attention from the second person. The use of technology has revolutionized the communication. The advent of internet, often defined as the network of networks, has brought unprecedented change, totally changing the traditional communication.
With gradual development, especially the second generation of internet, the digital communication has witnessed unimaginable change. Social media or the social networking sites are regarded as Web 2.0; the Facebook, and YouTube are examples of Web 2.0. Internet was earlier static.
www.dictionary.com defines Web 2.0 as: “A second generation in the development of Word Wide Web, conceived as a combination of concepts, trends, and technologies that focus on user collaboration, sharing of user-generated content, and social networking.”
At a time when Facebook is becoming a major hangout for the teenagers and youths in Nepal, it is pertinent to discuss issues relating to the use of Facebook. Although the number of Twitter users is increasing in Nepal, Facebook is obviously a dominant social networking site. It is estimated the number of Facebook users in Nepal has reached 9.5 million, while the internet penetration has been recorded 62 per cent of population.
Before I began pressing the keys for this write up, I logged in my Facebook account and scrolled down for a while. I found various sorts of posts ranging from venting ire to government, sharing information about social evil and exposing corrupts.
A political leader maintained a status with photograph: An 18-year old girl from the backward community getting treatment at Narayani Sub-Regional Hospital for being burnt by her husband and in-laws. Referring to the police, the status further mentioned that the husband and the in-law attempted to kill her for not bringing dowry.
Similarly, saluting the awareness among the women, a male made an important update with a photograph featuring women demolishing chhaugoth (outhouse used by women during the menstrual period, being excluded from the family members).
Studying on my own status and the ‘Likes’ ‘React’ and ‘Comments’ it generated, I updated a write-up clip named Children in Digital Age on the evening of April 5. It garnered more than 50 Likes within two hours and four comments as well. The way the content is presented determines how people react to it. Provocative remarks, satirical and humour-generating contents and photos are effective means to lure the Facebook users. As I had made the status mentioning: “What can we do when the children glue to digital screen. It is not good to deprive them of computer and internet, while ensuring safe use is important. Parenting in digital age is a challenging job.” Moreover, the clip of the write up placing a photo in the middle featuring three children watching mobile exuding surprise is another key lure. Needless to say, the relevance played vital role on it. It has been very difficult for the parents to cope with the situation that the time children indulge on digital screen is growing.
The likes and comments on Facebook post is also determined by language we use. In Nepal’s case, if you post in Nepali, it draws more responses while the English draws fewer responses. As is the cases worldwide, the photos updated on Facebook warrant quick attention.
Moreover, the activities in the digital screens depend on the digital literacy which also includes the awareness on use of internet. If the digital literacy is increased, the number of people using computer and internet increases sharply. It is related to digital divide, which Nepal is suffering. Like the development gap between rich and poor countries and communities, the digital divide, which Nepal is suffering from. Like the development gap between the rich and poor countries and communities, digital divide is also an indicator to understand development in ICT sector. The digital divide is widened by presence of language, culture, educational status, gender, and affordability and availability of infrastructures, among others.
Despite having numerous benefits of Facebook- an effective medium to get wider publicity of goods, service and events, and visibility of views, visions and personal image, it is largely a photo book in Nepal. It is natural that photos draw quick and more attention than the words. So, the debate and discussion on any issues is ignored by many. However, it again depends on the awareness on the issues, literacy among the people.
Social media against autocracy
It must be indelible in everyone’s mind that it is the social media that created a history- augmenting and making the Arab Spring a success. The despots in the region had to step down owing to public pressure, which ended their decades of tyranny. It means internet has been an effective medium to ensure democratization of system with the abolishment of autocracy.
The suppression of social media is taken as an oppressive measure of rulers and system. When they resort to the shutdown of internet, blocking of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others, they are egregiously violating people’s right to freedom of expression and information. Their intention with the suppression is obvious- hiding the wrongdoing, irregularities, mismanagement, corruption, coercion. Many countries including our neighbors have been reported to shutting down the internet for various reasons.
Wise use of internet
Yes, internet, if handled poorly, invites harm and disaster in personal life, community and country. The spread of hatred, fear, and various crimes including terrorism are further ignited by the internet. At such situation, it is natural that social media along with entire internet service is blocked, and contents filtered and throttled. As the internet brings revolutionary change, so is the scale of damage it invites. Therefore, cyber security has become a most pressing and pertinent issues across the globe.
While talking about the internet and social media’s ban, how legitimate the reasons are should be taken into account. It is generally accepted that in the name of controlling few unruly persons, the rights of the larger public must not be breached.
Recently, a news story mentioned that a Member of the National Assembly in Nepal, spoke for the need of regulating the social networking sites, arguing in the meeting that everyone was indulging in Facebook, Twitter and other apps. Rules and policy were required to control these, he underscored. Similarly, reasoning about the workplace discipline, the Karnali Province announced to block the Facebook during office hours.
In conclusion, social networking sites are unavoidable. They are strong watchdogs. Their use and misuse must be studied and analyzed. Their safe use is equally important. In Nepal’s context, a thorough research is necessary to know all dimensions of social networking sites and avail of opportunities created by the innovation of modern information technology.
The Rising Nepal