Technological innovation and digitisation are rewriting our rules of engagement in public, private and professional lives. The Media, Entertainment and Information (MEI) industries are at the core of this transformation; provide the digital tools, services, applications and content we engage with, increasingly anytime and anywhere. The hunger for immediate information and the urge of staying connected is bringing a distinct shift in the sensibilities and psychologies of the individual and the social fabric.
The boundaries between private and professional lives are getting increasingly blurred. The ever-increasing trust and dependence on digital and social media are opening up new challenges and opportunities at the same pace.
Creation, consumption and sharing of digital content has boomed like never before. This brings to fore the risks about authenticity and truthfulness of shared content along with the issues of security of personal and digital data of billions of users who are accessing content on online platforms.
People are no longer passive bystanders or recipients of information but are active participants in creation and streaming of content which are reshaping the society. The benefits to both individuals and society of increased digital media usage include the following:
1) Empowers individuals in social interactions and connecting like-minded people across social, economic, religious, political, cultural and ideological boundaries.
2) Offers the means to increase public participation in projects with a common cause of interest with increased level of flexibility for both employers and employees and a higher level of integration between personal and professional life, thus boosting production.
The main risks of higher digital media consumption include the following:
1) Can be used with harmful intentions to spread misinformation and intimidate free speech and spirit through mass mobilisations against contrary ideas.
2) Content filtering mechanisms and manipulation of search engine optimisations can influence human decision making with potentially discriminatory effects.
3) Affecting labour markets through disruption of potential skill requirements through AI and automation, bringing in widespread unemployment through disparities between demand and supply channels.
4) Changes in social skills and a sense of empathy as children and adults spend more time online.
5) Greater stress and vulnerability brought in through excessive exposure to digital world and facing a constant pressure about keeping oneself attractive and relevant in the virtual world.
6) Facilitates bullying, harassment and social defamation, reflecting threats and patterns seen in the offline world.
The challenges are of gigantic proportions and may soon overcome the opportunities and advantages if the public and private sector along with NGOs and individuals don’t come together for working out feasible balances and checks to maintain sanity. Transparency, accountability and social responsibility are the three basic tenets on which technological advances should be monitored to maximize the gains and minimize the collateral damage.