Yesterday, the Indian government banned 59 apps including the popular social networking app TikTok. I do support the ban because it was not safe to continue using these apps, given the prevailing situation in the country and the security risk that they posed. However, this has caused immense distress to several Tiktok users and stars who spent a lot of time building their profiles on it, and have many memories associated with it. Today, on Social Media day, we need to reflect on this and it has an important lesson for all of us.
During the last few decades, we have witnessed a phenomenon called “dematerialization”, thanks to more and more digitalization and the proliferation of the Internet. Many things that used to have a physical and tangible format like photographs, music albums, Birthday and Anniversary greetings, etc., have now become totally digital. For example, we hardly print and store photos in physical photo albums now and we have stopped collecting music in the form of records, cassettes, or discs. Even though these personal possessions have become mostly digital and less costly, we are still attached to them and have memories and some feelings associated with them. The attachment might have been stronger in the case of physical objects, but it exists even towards digital possessions.
We also cherish our social media profiles because we share our best pics, our best moments, and our best stories on them, and we receive compliments and comments from our friends on them. Our profiles are our online diaries that store memories that are precious to us, in a digital format. Therefore, not being able to access a profile brings with it a sense of loss and grief.
However, we need to understand that we have very little control over social media platforms over the long term. Technology continually evolves and the present platforms might be replaced by others, or external political events might render some platforms obsolete or inaccessible. The best way to avoid loss is to create a personal website and simultaneously store our best photos, stories, and experiences on it, while we continue sharing them on social media. In this manner, we will have a permanent record that cannot be erased, because one has more control.
Nowadays, it’s really easy to purchase a domain name and create a personal website, it’s not necessary to know any computer language or understand programming to do it. It’s easy, and there are several tools and sites that help you do it. It might take a little effort and time, but it is certainly worth it. Otherwise, you might end up losing many precious memories when a social media platform folds up.
The best practice would be to first post pics or write-ups on your own website and then share them on social media like I’m doing now. 😉 Please do acquire a domain soon and get started, you can keep learning and improvising on it! It’s great fun 🙂
Russell W. Belk, Extended Self in a Digital World, Journal of Consumer Research, Volume 40, Issue 3, 1 October 2013, Pages 477–500.