Over the years, the disparities between the urban and the rural areas have been very wide. From infrastructure to health care, from IT to other basic amenities, the gap between this two has not been the same. This gap has seriously made the rural areas less developed compared to the urban areas. Many rural areas face issues like sanitation, public health care. Social media can still find a relevant place amidst these deficiencies. In India, for instance, Social media has affected all spheres of rural people’s lives: right from their livelihood to their healthcare, from traditions to social campaigns. (Wikipedia)
Many people have defined social media networks from time to time. But broadly, most people find social media networks synonymous with social networking. Social media are websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. According to Wikipedia, they are interactive technologies that allow the creation/sharing of information, ideas, interests, and other forms of expressions via virtual communities and networks. Some of the more popular ones include Facebook, Whatsapp, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter among several others. The role of social media, as any other thing, has its negative impact and positive impact it sure plays in development, although one may far outweigh the other. In this article, we will look into the roles the social media may play in rural development.
Social media innovation and technologies propel new solutions in terms of remoteness of markets for goods and farm produce, transportation of same. The headache of bringing farm produce to the cities in spite of the bad roads is a challenge. The tendencies for part of the goods to have rotten away are very high. They can now operate social media apps especially Facebook which seems to be quite basic for not too literate persons and most friendly to upload their wares, goods and products. This makes it attractive for people and food production industries to access and save the rural dwellers the pains of coming to the city without a readymade market. It opens up the particular rural settlement of such kind.
Also, it has helped political participation on the part of the rural dwellers apart from the usual voting days. Access to social media has helped them to see what is going on in the political space. At least, the literate ones in the community are aware and relate same to others in the community. It helps to embolden and bring them into the awareness of asking for the basic rights of amenities and not just waiting for their dwellings to be accessed only when it’s time to vote.
Worthy of note is how social media has propelled entertainment and fashion in rural areas. It has greatly reduced the disparity that was rather obvious in terms of ‘knowing what’s up’ when the rural dweller comes to town. When it comes to latest songs secular or spiritual, slang, entertainers, dressings and haircuts, social media has helped to bridge the gap to a considerable extent.
Social media has helped in propagating the mission and vision of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) also known as the Global Goals. It is a universal call to action of the United Nations to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030, all people enjoy peace and prosperity. It has 17 pillars some of which include climate action, quality education, clean water and sanitation among others. SDGs are being spread daily by volunteers and Non Governmental Associations committed to one of its pillars or another. Some of the ways these are being spread for awareness and action is to put it on different social media platforms. This awareness in the mind of the populace helps more volunteers to rise from urban dwellings who might have had their homes in the rural settlements to look inwards. They go back to raise support and ensure these goals are being achieved in their villages thereby propelling development in those rural communities.
When the social media is properly utilized, the extent of developments it can afford rural settlements will be quite numerous. Like it is popularly said, “The world is now a global village.” This saying stands true particularly with the way different social media has exposed all humans to one another.