Many people agree that the use of social media is making them more social and connected to the rest of society. However, others argue that social media is having the opposite effect. So: is social media making us more or less social? Is it changing the way we interact with people on a daily basis? Is it having a positive or negative impact on society?
By Rosie Miers, 2018 Youth Member for Rockhampton
In our modern world, social networking has become an important means of communication and a part of our everyday lives. With less than a click of a button, it offers a variety of ways for people to interact and engage with others. Social networking began in 1978 when the Bulletin Board system was developed by Ward Christensen and Randy Suess. It wasn’t until 1994 that GeoCities, the first social networking web hosting service was launched. GeoCities helped users to create their own websites and served as a launching point for Myspace. It paved the way for major social networking and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat; all of which have kept us all hyperconnected ever since.
Many people agree that the use of social media is making them more social and connected to the rest of society. It allows them to interact with other users, find people with similar interests and to share and create their own content. However, others argue that social media is having the opposite effect. So: is social media making us more or less social? Is it changing the way we interact with people on a daily basis? Is it having a positive or negative impact on society?
Communication is a crucial part of human life, interactions, and societal progress. Social media is the most prevalent form of communication in this millennium thus far. Although it is an amazing way for people to interact and engage with individuals they may otherwise have never crossed paths with, the hyper-connectivity and over-sharing culture of social media brings a myriad of issues with it.
Psychological studies show that social media has made it difficult to distinguish between meaningful relationships we foster in the real world and those we’ve developed online. The difficulty to make a distinction between the real and cyber-world leads to some abusing social media platforms. This social media abuse includes but is not limited to: cyberbullying, catfishing, identity theft and much, much more!
This abuse stems from a desire to be accepted by society or peers and a lack of self-confidence in young teens especially. This dangerous combination can lead to many becoming addicted to social media. It has also been reported that young adults with a strong social media presence are more likely to be narcissistic, and have anti-social tendencies or aggressive behaviours.
Over-use or abuse of social media can lead to decreased productivity, lack of privacy and continuous comparing and competing with others. The false sense of connection social media creates, especially when we are ignored or feel unrecognised, can make us feel isolated from the rest of the online community. Beyond the obvious mental harms, feeling alone or socially isolated can also be physically dangerous.
Social isolation can lead to a wide range of problems including: sleeping disorders, lack of motivation, depression, anxiety, paranoia, body image issues, suicidal thoughts and substance abuse. Furthermore, our digital footprint means the things we do online have much greater and long-lasting consequences, such as the implications of sexting, the distribution of pornography and revenge porn, and the general exposure of our poor decisions. For employment, relationships, and personal privacy, this footprint can be seriously harmful.
Social media is one of both the greatest aids and hindrances to the development of today’s society. Though it can facilitate many negative consequences, the pros of social media ultimately outweigh the cons. Our ability to make friends the world over, to share our ideas and creations, and even to start a career are only a few of the opportunities social media provides us.
So, I encourage you to status-update, tweet, ‘gram and snap responsibly. Go outside every once in a while, turn your phone off and have a conversation that doesn’t require an internet connection. Enjoy the best of both worlds whilst trying to build genuine real-world relationships.