Well-Being//

How Digital Can Usher in Social Change and the Need for Creating Safe Online Spaces

Creating safer online platforms is the need of the hour as digital connections take over social interactions.

Photo by Camilo Jimenez/ Unsplash
Photo by Camilo Jimenez/ Unsplash

A lot has changed in the twenty-first century, including people waking up to Instagram posts, WhatsApp stories and Tweets. The “woke” generation of today stands at a different platform with the power of the internet and their social media utility. 

Not just the youth, even the elders are endeavouring to match pace with the young ones and educating themselves online about several issues and pressing concerns while signing petitions online and striving to bring a change for good. The people are venturing into a diversity of sectors, catalysing the development of India while aligning it with their individual growth. One of the most helpful tools in this process has been the internet. One can also be bold enough to say that it’s one thing that people, especially the millennials that constitute the majority of our population, feel powerless without it. 

Shrinking the world and bringing India closer since August 15, 1995, the internet has made its place. With the youth yearning for wi-fi and high-speed data, it is evident how resourceful it has turned out to be. 

Ideally, the internet should have formed an extensive cob across the nation, interconnecting people from all streets and corners of India. But the dream of Digital India got its due reality check with the unfortunate outbreak of coronavirus this year. Many issues surfaced amidst the lockdown, including the internet not being accessible to all, even when most of the platforms were establishing their online presence and universities going virtual with their classes. The pandemic made us realise how the internet is not a luxury anymore but more of a necessity and the only industry that has the potential to thrive in these unprecedented times is the one operating in cyberspace.

People having access to the internet were able to get quick updates and carry forward with their lives regardless of the pandemic. They were able to pursue their education, stay up to date with the actual status of the crisis as well as the global impact of it, order groceries and other essentials with the tap of the screen at various social media platforms. This further reflects the power of social media. 

It was rather overwhelming for the capital of the country to witness another optimistic episode steered by social media which involved a small food stall getting its due attention when an Instagram influencer decided to record the issues of the poor family and made it go viral to help the owners in making a living during these tough times. 

Similarly, through the growing virtual networks which were set up specifically to help and facilitate movement during the pandemic, one pregnant woman was able to reach her home safely amidst the lockdown. She was also provided with online consultation with a gynaecologist to understand all preventive measures to be taken while travelling during this uncertain time. Thus, it is evident how this crisis has unravelled the power of social media and how one tweet, one post, one story could help save lives or sustain amidst such situations. 

However, it is also imperative for that digital space to be a safe medium for everyone to place their trust in it, or else there could be severe consequences of taking to the internet to express ourselves. Fake news getting circulated through multiple online platforms has been a major hindrance to safety and mental wellness during the pandemic as well. Although some virtual communities on Facebook were instrumental in busting such fake information that was only causing distress by providing government released notices, it still was a matter of concern to tackle the situation. This new technology is still forming its norms, making a lot of people learn how to stay safe at the price of others falling prey to financial fraud, hate speech, data theft, and more, every passing day. The long list of unsolved internet tragedies keeps getting longer. 

A lot of people were the victims of banking frauds and the concern is so prevalent that artists have shows directed and released on several platforms to highlight the digital cons leading to monetary losses along with other damage. One such story was of an elderly, who wasn’t aware of the nuances of internet banking and OTPs and got defrauded by a person who posed as a bank employee and asked for his CVV and one OTP. He lost a big part of his fortune because of this incident. That’s why the need of the hour is to change this scenario and create a safe digital platform for people to initiate social changes via social media. 

A few non-profit labels have further reflected the role of social media as they used it to connect with people in need and provide them with essentials such as ration and other necessities. This is only possible when people on the internet are being honest and not being a victim to virtual fraudulent sites or hackers. It is imperative for us to create and support online safety in order to bring a change and transform the world into a place where we can collectively thrive. 

Misinformation and online scams are increasing and impeding the process of the nation’s growth, thus it is crucial for us to step forward and change that consciously. Some of the organisations are endeavouring to minimise internet cons and make it a safer space by conducting workshops and seminars on online safety and how to prevent them while keeping privacy utmost priority. Such steps combined with other efforts of the Indian cyber cell is bound to create a difference for good and enable more people to get empowered from social media, further bringing social reforms and using it for a purpose that matters. 

The collective vision of society should be focused on preventing digital crimes and minimising the virtual cons to make the space safer and more user-oriented. This will further steer the stakeholders to work together and create transparent and inclusive systems. Verifying information, checking the credibility of sources and being vigilant of the fraudulent links will further help in creating a secure web which will empower people to initiate a wave of change, allowing them to voice what they stand for and demanding for a world that is needed at the moment.

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