In the last 20 years or so, there has been a rapid growth in the use of social media. Enough so that some sites have aged badly enough to be considered similar to dinosaurs, like Myspace and slowly Facebook. With it being a fairly recent creation, the millennials and, more prominently, Generation Z have bared the brunt of its effects and ever-changing forefront, especially since many have had to grow up with the culture. Socialization for many has changed forever, which provide positives and negatives for people’s well-being.
Here are several affects of social media:
The social aspect, of course. Now people are not limited to being around the people immediately in front of them. They can explore and converse with others from all over the world.
Not only can they further their existing relationships as another way of connecting, but also there is more opportunity to connect with a larger base, possibly opening the doors to more choices of people and relationships.
This allows for even more interactions that may not have been possible or even existed before, creating outlets and communities. For example, it can benefit people that have trouble with in-person contact, minority or marginalized groups, or people that have been through the same trauma. It sometimes displays the best of humanity, with uplifting stories or messages. In this regard, social media creates a positive impact on the world, benefiting the social aspect of a person’s well-being.
However, an online personality is not always the same as someone’s real personality. There are some that use their online presence to augment their true personality and use their social media as an extension of who they think they are, not who they actually are.
But even in the more “real” portrayal online, social media provides a perfect avenue for people to create facades. No amount of words, captions, pictures or even videos can completely capture what a person is really like.
Social media is an outlet for people to create a curated image, one that is thought-out and intentional, unlike what most can accomplish in real life. This concept, however, can easily be forgotten or not realized for impressionable people, like the youth.
This leads to the negative aspect of social media.
What you see is what you believe and in this case that may not be beneficial.
Online personalities are not real, especially because they tend to take the best moments or best said things and string them together to create this image. When this is not regularly acknowledged, it may create pressure on ourselves to replicate this in real life too.
And we can get so used to it, it can almost become subconscious, even for young kids. When these standards are not met, people may feel like there is something wrong with them or that there is something missing from their lives.
Additionally, the quantification of social media through the number of followers and comments on posts, and even what is being said in the comments, good or bad, can dictate someone’s mood or self-esteem.
Businesses know this too, and use it to their benefit to promote products to impressionable youth.
The formula for social media makes it so people will always keep coming back for more. With the lack of education in it, people can easily let it control their life and tell them when to look at it and when to stop and how it should make them feel.
Sound like an addiction? Perhaps for those that have not understood the effects of social media. This makes less-mature people, like young people, prime exploits.
Social media takes advantage of what makes drugs so addictive, but does it psychologically rather than chemically, using instant gratification and impulse.
Now, some are stable on their own and know how to deal with their own emotions in healthy ways, so for them social media is just an aid to help them. But for those still learning to deal with their thoughts, feelings, body and health in general, without regulation or education, social media can disrupt this process. In dealing with negative emotions, similar to addictive substances, social media could be learned to be used in response.
The goal here becomes to remove the feeling entirely. Whether it is boredom, disappoint, anger or other negative feelings, it could be result in relief and eventually apathy.
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