By Nalima Amir Soleh
There was a time when people used to travel long distances to post their letters, send a telegram or call their dear ones. Recent history elucidates that the only technology people of Gilgit-Baltistan had their hand on was radio: the main source of news, information and entertainment for the people.
I remember when I was a in middle school, sometimes in the mid 1900, there used to be only one TV in our village where all the villagers used to gather to watch news, sports or other programs, but within some years the scenario changed radically. There suddenly came the technological revolution in the form of satellite dish and televisions followed by landline telephone and then mobile phone, computer, smartphone, laptops, the Internet and tablets to mention some. These technologies have not only turned into need of the new generation, but have also turned into powerful tools that shape attitude, perceptions, thinking and behavior of the society.
When material culture changes, societies change, and to cope with those changes, it becomes necessary to change their non-material culture. Fortunately, people of Gilgit-Baltistan have accepted progressive changes easily. Over the last one or two years, we have seen drastic increase in the use of social media and telecommunication among young men and women of GB. Social networking is expanding as people increasingly use Facebook, Twitter and mobile apps to virtually mingle with their family and friends.
Every technology has two sides to it – the positive and the negative. Technology can be used to the benefit of the society or to harm the society. Social networking in GB was lately limited to face-to-face interaction among the members of the society, meeting with family and friends, discussing social issues so on and so forth, there used to be strong bond among them. Even though the revolution of virtual social networking has brought us near our relatives and friends living far away, but it has also drifted us away from those living or standing next to us.
As youth are undergoing a complex transition period where they are full of curiosity and can be easily influenced by telecommunication, it has been noted that the new generation is spending much of their time on their mobile phones, and social media rather than their education. I have also seen young men and women of GB who are use the Internet in a positive and productive way. I have seen students using the Internet to work from home and earn money that can cater to their fees at colleges and universities.
But, I have also seen the youth abusing technology, especially social media and mobile phones. Generally, young people are misusing technology by giving it the name of fun, texting, teasing each other, doing prank calls, and harassing and blackmailing people from the picture they share on social media. I have also seen some young men using social media for moral policing.
There is a dire need of teaching young men and women of GB to productively use technology and refrain from abusing it. Parents also need to keep close check on their children’s social media activities and discourage them from engaging in digital abuse.