Social Media and Degradation of Language amongst Youth
If history books will ever be rewritten, this age will surely find mention in golden letters. In today’s era of technological advancement, social media is the unrivalled king. It is so vast an ocean that it has engulfed the entire humanity in its purview. India is a shining star in the world of Social Media. Today India has 450 million internet users who comprise approximately 15% of the world internet user population. Moreover, about 213 million Indians have Facebook accounts; close to 25 million Indians have active Twitter accounts and about 175 million Indians are active WhatsApp users.
More than 65% of our population is below 35 years of age and this is the age group which remains very active on social media. The recent colossal success of Reliance Jio exactly proves the point. The beauty of social media is the liberty of its usage. A child as well as an adult enjoy equal privileges. One can pour his heart out in any way over these technological platforms. This uncontrolled liberty is of grave concern. Of late, it has been seen that the users are crossing all limits in criticising people, government, institutions and countries over social media sites. Trolling is the buzzword these days. Commenting in the name of religion and patriotism is amongst the worst social media posts. People tend to hold everything at stake while showing their pseudo nationalism. It has been seen that children as young as four-five years have active Facebook and Instagram accounts and enjoy posting text and pictures over them. It is a matter of grave concern that female users suffer the most. If Facebook comments on the posts and replies on the tweets of female celebrities are read, one would die of shame. The users cross all heights of indecency. Some comments are so derogatory that not only it brings shame to the person and family but to the society and country at large.
The larger question is that – Is the language on social media reflecting the language of our society? Are we degrading individuals or are we failing to teach our younger generation the correct language? Our education system needs to look into this aspect very seriously. This ignominious language on social networking sites demeans our progress. Our age old traditions believe in ‘Sarvesham Avirodhen’ which means we should not hurt anyone even through our words. But today criticising anyone and everyone in the name of religion, gender and political affiliations is becoming the most common past time for the Indian youth. This shows the growing shallowness of our education system.
The roots of this problem lie in the year 2000. The then Prime Minister of India Hon’ble Atal Bihari Vajpayee constituted Birla-Ambani Committee to suggest reforms in Education. The policy framework of this committee laid stress on making the students a skilled workforce, rather than thinking-questioning rational students. This committee further undermines the importance of subjects like philosophy, history, culture and literature. The Committee suggests language needs to be taught merely as a skill and just enable the learners to write business letters. The literature component of language was cut down. Secondly, the framework document laid stress on technology rather than science per se. Research and Development will be based on the expectations of the industry rather than the requirements of the subject or the needs of the knowledge hungry student. The biggest irony is that Vajpayee government accepted and implemented the postulates of this policy framework. After that the ten year rule of Congress party followed the footsteps of its predecessor. Not only that, both the governments remained silent on publicising the report. This work marred the education system and language remained the worst sufferer.
Albert Einstein rightly said Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
Within a decade, this is showing its results on the language usage of our youth. The younger generation knows how to write but does not know what to write. The sorry state of wisdom can be seen on social networking sites where users press ‘Like’ button on even posts of death. Today’s social media literacy is equivalent to cultural illiteracy. WhatsApp is the last nail in the coffin. The circulation of unauthenticated posts and forwarded messages claiming to be true is proving dangerous for our society. This is the prime reason for banning of social media in the times of crises and riots. This massive consumption of fake knowledge is futile. A WhatsApp message beautifully describes this paradigm – WhatsApp is teaching youth a new lesson, Man is alienating from society in order to become Social.
It is no exaggeration to say that, we teachers have to take the driving seat now and take control of the situation before it is too late. Every school counsellor, language and social science teacher has to play a crucial role in improving the language of today’s younger generation. The time tested cultural and literature component of language and history needs to be inculcated with Values and Life Skills education. Teachers need to teach students what to post on social networking sites. How much is too much, remains an age old question which needs to be answered with great zeal by teachers.
I am an Engineer by my first degree. I worked with an MNC in Mumbai as a Quality Engineer. My keen interest in teaching brought me to the doorsteps of Education Industry. I am currently working as a Sr. Teacher (PGT) English in one of the reputed schools of Haryana. I am a CBSE Resource Person for Challenging Areas in English Core (Class XII), Life Skills, CCE, Gender Sensitivity & Classroom Management. I possess a rich experience in training Students, Teachers, Head of Departments and Principals. I am also an active career counselor. I have ample experience in applying appropriate teaching and assessment methodologies, and an expert at designing and developing educational objectives and preparing teaching material.