Social media can have a positive influence on society, but like most things in life, there is a flip-side to that. For all of the ways social networks have opened up new lines of communication, they have also had a negative impact on society as a whole and each of us as individuals.
This article examines some of the negative effects social media has had on society. Some you’ll recognize, but some may take you by surprise. After all, most of us don’t spend our time on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram contemplating the negative impact these platforms are wreaking on society.
The idea of friends and friendship was once very simple. If you knew someone, hung out with them regularly, and liked their company, they were your friend.
While the people who still fit that description are still your friends, so are the people you have connected with on social networking sites. At least according to Facebook’s nomenclature.
Whether you talk to them, care about what they’re up to, or have any interest in them whatsoever, they’re still regarded as “friends” on some social media platforms.
Other social media sites use alternatives such as “followers,” but there’s still that notion that you somehow know them on a personal level. And the fact is, you don’t.
That celebrity you follow on Twitter or that influencer whose every video you watch on YouTube isn’t your friend and never will be. You may hang on their every word, but they don’t know you from Adam. You’re just a commodity providing views, likes, and comments, and helping raise their level of internet fame to new heights.
Never forget who your real friends are, despite what social media tells you.
Everyone likes to talk about themselves from time to time. It’s human nature. However, social media has fostered a new breed of self-centered attention seekers.
These are the people that post endless selfies using the same three poses. Or detail every single moment of their lives, no matter how dull or dreary it is.
In recent years, this has even become a career of sorts for some people. They may not have started out as celebrities famous for something tangible, but they’re now influencers paid to promote brands and products based on their social media presence. We have, therefore, let attention-seeking become a lucrative career choice.
Seeking attention used to be frowned upon, but it’s now the default option.
You have probably noticed your attention span shortening in recent years. Thanks to the sheer volume of information we’re bombarded with these days, our minds are becoming programmed to flit between things more quickly.
The idea of actually reading a long article in full is going out of fashion, and you’re more likely to just read a headline, then share or comment based on that alone.
This is having a serious impact on people’s view of the world. Because after consuming a few clickbait headlines without reading the full story or any context, you can be left thinking you’re well-informed when you are anything but.
All social networking sites add to this information overload to a certain extent, but Twitter is the main culprit. People are condensing everything down to a limited number of characters, so when it comes time to actually read anything longer than that, it takes a change of pace and a change of mindset to do so.
No one takes the time to read (and fully understand) things any more.
There’s no right or wrong way to be productive. Some people work better in short bursts, while others like to take their time over things. However, a universal truth is that distractions are extremely harmful to productivity, and social media is potentially the biggest distraction of all.
Your phone is right there beside you, and all of your favorite social media platforms are just waiting to be explored. The temptation to check your Facebook or Instagram can be overwhelming. And once you succumb to the temptation, you can sucked in for more time than is healthy.
Whether it’s posts, comments, or likes from friends or followers, news articles to read and videos to watch, or even games to play, social media is a true productivity killer.
Productivity helps society function normally, and social media is distracting us all.
Social media means we’re able to communicate, at an instant, with almost anyone in the world. This is obviously a positive in some ways, but there is a negative side to this. Whether it’s an old flame from school you’ve found on Facebook, or an attractive stranger you’ve seen on Instagram, temptation is everywhere on social media.
Sure, people in good relationships will shun any temptation to stray, but that temptation is there nonetheless.
There are countless examples of people who rediscovered a long-lost love on Facebook, destroying their current relationship in the process. And then there are the hookups, sometimes of an extra-marital variety. Single people hooking up is one thing, but when one or both of you are in a relationship, this can cause untold heartache.
With temptation rife on social media, committed relationships will suffer.
This is perhaps the biggest negative impact that social media is having on society. The very concept of privacy seems to be inexorably eroding, and at a fantastic pace. Those of us who are connected to the internet are connected 24/7, and we have immersed ourselves in an extension of society in which privacy is not treated with much regard.
Facebook especially has led the way in showing how powerful a tool social media can be in coercing people to happily give up personal information. We start by giving up our full name and birth date, but quickly move onto listing our likes and dislikes, checking into the places we’re visiting, and sharing photos of our most intimate moments with loved ones.
Most people would rightly refuse to walk around with a billboard attached to their front revealing all and sundry to the world. Yet we do just that on social networking sites. A dream for advertisers and marketers, but a nightmare for the rest of us.
Don’t give up all of your personal information to social media platforms.
There are bullies everywhere. At kindergartens, schools, colleges, and workplaces, bullies exist. But now they have a new way of bullying people. And all from behind the security blanket that is their phone or computer screen.
Online bullies are even more cowardly than the bullies you’ll encounter face-to-face. They’ll harass, cajole, and troll people on social media, and elicit some bizarre form of joy from doing so. But if their anonymity was removed, they would lose any of the bravado they display online.
The problem is, social media is making previously good-natured people turn quite nasty. It’s as if the darker side that they wouldn’t have dared display in person previously can now come out to play. Because that username and profile picture isn’t really them. Except it is.
Ordinarily nice people are using social media to bully and harass others.
As you can see, social media can be a negative influence on people as individuals and society as a whole. However, it’s up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Ultimately, we can choose to make social media a force for good.
By recognizing real friendships over fake friendships, not using social media to seek attention, maintaining long attention spans, not letting social media distract us from what’s important, maintaining our relationships in the face of temptation, not oversharing all aspects of our lives, and not becoming a bully hiding behind a keyboard.
Social media is often condemned, but here are several positive impacts of social media to think about.
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