Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is the cause of today's many social ills. What is your opinion?
From YouTube to Facebook; from Xbox 360 to Nintendo Wii; from Intel-powered computers to multitasking mini netbooks; these evolutionary medium of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have become essential part of our lives that not using one of them is so irrelevant in our society. Indeed, the rapid advancement of technology propels the social welfare, for better or worse. Undeniably, I agree that ICT cause today’s many soial ills like cyber-bullying and privacy intrusion. However, I am not waywardly inclined towards the cons because ICT have pros as well when used to handle social ills such as terrorist attacks.
Knowingly, ICT is the platform for cyber-bullying. Nowadays, the unending rise of social networking sites that gives birth to Facebook, MySpace and more recently Twitter have shaped how this generation interacts. As if teenagers have fully understood and are practising the phrase “No man is an island,” they make new friends while keeping in touch with the others through these sites, virtually and dangerously. Photos posted that are initially intended to update their lifestyles are altered by stalkers and reposted to dent their reputations. On a more serious note, predators use these sites, especially MySpace, to lash harsh verbal abuses to innocent victims. A search through the dark side of MySpace would let us uncover hatred, vengeance and anger that are unleashed on helpless teens, causing social unrest about the potential psychological trauma the site could trigger. The problem is so disturbing to the social, specifically the parents, that the theme of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2009 is “Protecting children in cyberspace.”
Besides, privacy invasion is another sensitive issue caused by ICT. Ironically, computers, on which we rely excessively to store and save our private data, are the means of hackers to steal, destroy or even be exploited for their own selfish good. This hideous act could easily be done when uninformed surfers of the internet download good-looking software that turn out to be malicious. When perpetrators have got hold to credit card numbers, bank accounts or confidential documents, it’s frightening to imagine that the hard-earned money could be lost the next hour. The social, however, neglect this warning and as a result, cyber criminals gain the upper hand by pocketing social wealth. On a different and larger scale, the leaked photos of Hong Kong celebrities in compromising positions not only stunned the conservative community but shattered the faith of a million fans as well. The main culprit? A computer technician who unlawfully search and more importantly, copy the private photographs.
Nevertheless, ICT can be useful weapons to counter terrorist attacks. The Closed-circuit Televisions (CCTVs) that are placed literally everywhere in London indicates that it is unlikely for a person to commit a crime and flee unpunished. Better still, the eagle eyes coupled with facial recognition technology would provide clues on the whereabouts of a wanted individual. As an evidence, investigators of the 7 July London bombings – simultaneous attacks on public transports in the morning rush hour that claimed hundreds of lives and injured more – used CCTVs to trace the mindless, heartless bombers. Closer to home, law enforcers took advantage of the cameras installed in the hotels to catch the last moments before the bombing of JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton happened in Indonesia. Although the damage was done and the social plummeted into distraught and distress, the brilliant use of ICT serves as a stern reminder to extremist that you can hide, but you cannot run.
To tie it up, it depends on the users of ICT to determine whether the medium are beneficial or dangerous. If hackers intentionally want to inflict harm, social networking sites could be horrific indeed. If invaders want to tarnish anyone’s life, the word privacy might as well be taken out from the dictionary. Therefore, instead of centralising the discussion on ICT, let us scrutinise the creators; the propellers; the masterminds behind this technology: the humankind.