In Pakistan, social media is like an unleashed horse

By Arshad Dogar

I started using social media — especially Facebook — in April 2009 to find childhood friends and classmates. I was successful in locating most of them and they reminded me of my childhood and college life. It was fun.

But in recent years, for many users, Facebook became a tool to discuss controversial and hate-mongering issues. I stopped using it. When I logged into Facebook again, I resolved to share and see good ideas, snaps and activities.

I started exploring its use to highlight my work with colleagues, friends, sources and officials. I began experimenting with Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Do you know what are the results of my posts/status updates? I will let you know after sharing few thoughts. 

There are two kinds of people who use Skype, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, WhatsApp or any other social media websites.

Some use it to share fun through pictures, status-updates, and smiley icons depicting different feelings, in the hopes of receiving hilarious comments and many ‘Likes’.

It is also the cheapest and most timely way to stay connected with family and friends.

Others choose it to promote their work. A student, professional or family member wants to get appreciations and comments for their work and thoughts.

But in both cases you have to be very careful about fake entries and misleading facts. You can save yourself a lot of trouble by applying strict privacy settings on your timeline.

If I compare the use of social media in Pakistan and America, you will see a big difference.

In Pakistan, the social media is like an unleashed horse. Some people use it for amusement, while others see it as a way to create hatred and conflict. There is no prohibition or restriction on you even if you use abusive language.

Some journalists and businessmen have started benefitting from its use to gain direct attention to their work. Pakistan media houses have yet to get much benefit from social media.

In the U.S., journalists and media houses use social media extensively. They are busy making innovations to keep their readership/viewership high. Almost every newspaper or media house has specifically tasked staff for managing social media. They have also created special Apps for their readers. They analyze traffic reports weekly.

Let me take you back to my results about my personal use of social media.

When I post a picture, I receive more than 100 Likes and around 30 comments. However, when I post a news story, it will end up with just 10 comments and 30 Likes.

I have reached the conclusion that people like social media for pictures, social gatherings and fun-making things. I am also in favor of it.

But I also believe that social media is engaging and distracting. You never know how much time you are going to spend once you are logged into it.

 So, you have to decide whether to make it productive or destructive.