Urvashi Tiwari Testimonial

Urvashi Tewari St-Xavier-College Name: Urvashi Tiwari
Course: Masters in Public Policy
Institution: St. Xavier’s College- Autonomous, Mumbai

On 10th October 2015, CSR in collaboration with Facebook conducted a two-hour workshop at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai titled ‘Access is Empowerment’.

It was a very interactive session and talked about the topical issue of growing intricacies between people and the digital space.

The seminar was segregated into several topic of discussion followed by a #SocialSurfing competition.

The first part of the workshop talked about the ease that the cyber platform has brought about. It was supplemented by examples of various e-commerce entrepreneurs who made it big.

The second part was a detailed discussion and demo on the privacy tools that are provided – primarily by Facebook.

The third session consisted of the efficacy and immense potential of social media to form an effective platform for discussion and debate or an arena to disagree or raise one’s voice against political/social/cultural issues.

Lastly, we were made to form groups and were asked to sit and brainstorm on a campaign relating to gender empowerment. This part was especially quite enjoyable. Incidentally, the group I was part of won from our college. Our campaign was titled ‘Equality for E-quality’.

All in all, the workshop was highly informative, not to mention relevant. The positive aspects of Internet surfing were very well articulated and presented. However, there are other facets of #SocialSurfing that I feel we, as individuals need to probe further.

On one hand #SocialSurfing is a goldmine for information resources- both political and apolitical and one of the primary medium for prompt communication and entertainment. However, there are other more daunting aspects to #SocialSurfing that are quite worrisome.

Firstly, on a social and personal level, I believe #SocialSurfing has instilled a spirit of disconnect with people. In this age of instant gratification, we increasingly see instances, where people find interaction with 'real' people monotonous and mundane while interfacing with hundreds of virtual voiceless faces, has somehow become more exciting.

Secondly, online privacy has been a widely discussed and controversial topic, and #SocialSurfing is no exception. It's an open secret that social network sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and the likes use virtual tools like cookie and plug- ins to track user movements online. E-commerce and other companies use this collated information about people for tailored and personalized marketing. The result is that people are losing their ability to browse the Internet anonymously. What is somewhat appalling is that a huge percentage of browsers are oblivious to this. To make matters worse, such sites are very subtly engineering an attitudinal shift among people and instilling an almost flippant apathy about personal privacy. This is evident by the way you can’t access most portals without sharing information with ‘friends’ or the browsers ‘public profile’. ‘Privacy’ itself has become a complicated concept to understand because of the way it is framed. For, e.g. Many companies convolute it by saying that the information shall be shared only with ‘related companies and affiliated corporation’ with no further information.

In the end, I would like to point out that communication over the years has gradually molded and adapted itself to changing times. However during the present fast paced technological age, it has taken a particularly immense leap forward – what with the advent of cyberspace. And although the internet has now become an integral (if not inseparable) part for the dissemination of information – perhaps there is a need to take a step back and retrospect if current civilization can handle this immense and sudden paradigm shift in communication. We need to probe or at least mindfully ask ourselves if these social media platforms are slowly lowering our privacy expectations for pecuniary and commercial reasons or are we merely witnessing the nascent stages of a new morphed world – the Cyber World.

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