We live in a world of young people. About 1.2 billion (16 percent) of the world’s population is between 15 and 24 years. According to UN estimates, the population of young people may grow by 7 percent by 2030, to nearly 1.3 billion. Pakistan is the fifth largest young country in the world, with around 63 percent population of the country aged between 15 and 33.
But this world is not meant for the young people only. It needs experience, far sightedness, wisdom, maturity, composure and skill of the older people as well.
The advent of social media has given rise to netizens (digital-citizens) in Pakistan, like in any other part of the world. They have embraced internet and social media as a God sent opportunity. Recent figures suggest that Pakistan has approximately 83 million (36.5 percent) internet users out of which 72 million use social media — YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Tik Tok is the new breed in the farm. Even those young men and women, living in far flung areas of the country, are connected to the social media.
The social media connectivity has given rise to a new generation in last 18 years. A child born in 2004 is today 18 years old, a maestro of the social media and eligible to vote. The social media has given him and her voice and recognition to be heard and known. It has provided them equal opportunities, information, leisure and entertainment. They can read, say, the US president’s Twitter statement in 10 seconds.
Netizens use the social media platforms to their advantage. They use virtual spaces to make money, buying, selling and commuting. It gives them an additional sense of power and achievement. Further, the social media has empowered netizens to create fake identities, given them unguided freedom, uncensored visuals, unfiltered information, defamation without castigation and no sense of responsibility. They have lost historic perspective. Their life story begins and ends with social media. They are not bound by geographical boundaries. Their new-found power has drawn them away from the older generation.
Their life story begins and ends with the social media. They are not bound by geographical boundaries. Their new-found power has drawn them away from the older generation.
Netizens in Pakistan are growing in power as they feed on narratives served to them by popular leaders, such as Imran Khan, who have trapped the minds of netizens and disconnected them from political and historical perspectives of the country. Populous mindsets don’t follow logical argumentations. Rather they become prey to superficial sloganeering.
On the other hand, most of the older people have not embraced the social media as wholeheartedly. They believe in conventional mediums to transfer cultural values and social norms. They define boundaries and project uniformity. They consider themselves as sole proprietors of wisdom, decision-making skills and experience.
The gap between the two age groups is widening. Two different age groups are living in one world, where the ideals of love, peace respect and harmony must converge. This intergenerational gap can only be filled with social, civic, economic and political rights-based education through planned and constructive use of the internet and social media. Only a collaborative model of transferring traits via technological frameworks alongside monetary benefits will minimise ageism.
A joint venture between the older and younger groups is need of the hour. Life is not an app. No app can download logic, argument, patience and maturity. The seniors must catch the virtual bus quickly to keep with the times.