Social sharing, building reputation, bringing career opportunities and monetary income… All those are benefits of participating in social networks, which have given the chance to each individual who uses them to share his thoughts about any issue and appeal against any inequity, a thing that was limited while using regular media such as newspapers and TV. Moreover, this leads us to reflect on how the social media have revolutionized the world around us.
With its tremendous growth in the last few years, Social media’s use rate is unexpectedly very high, specially Facebook and Twitter that have grown much faster and captured millions of users in just a few years. The way technology is growing, it is obvious that more and more people are going to profit from its benefits. It has brought many advantages for the society. From progressed nations to under-developed countries, every nation is utilizing the magical power of social media to live life fully and use it for the sake of the people.
The emergence of social media has affected our daily lives in a way we could have never imagined, people continue to spend more time on social networks than any category of sites by exchanging more and more information and discussing issues related to the economic, social, and political circumstances of each country. As an example, social media was, during the “Arab Spring” in 2011, the main instigator of the uprisings, a mean to organize protests and spread awareness. It has also allowed the world to stay tuned with the social changing, and showed the immense power to support a collective action, such as fomenting a political change.
In addition, social media has demonstrated that individuals, all around the world, became more and more involved in civic participation, from individual volunteerism, to organizational involvement or electoral participation. It has also changed the sense of personal responsibility that individuals should feel, to uphold their obligations, as part of any community.
Nevertheless, on the other hand it has also affected the society negatively. Social media has also fueled negative and positive attitudes for the people. It is all about the usage and getting things done positively by using its power. It is up to its users to use its advantages. However, willingly or unwillingly it can still have negative impacts on them. In this essay, I am going to discuss how the disadvantages of social media made the society dumber and put it on in the path of dehumanization.
If we had to list the bad side effects of social media, we must keep in mind that each one of them depends on how social media users relate to them … But the biggest problem is that these same people don’t really focus on that and prefer to keep using it as if it was the only solution to keep them mindful and alive. The main negative effects are as follow:
Social media creates addiction
You have probably had lunch with a friend having his eyes on his smartphone during the meal, looking for the latest “like” and comments on the photo of the dish he just posted … and it is maybe even your own daily life. In the same way, if you feel a lack, when your internet connection is missing, it shows simply that you are addicted, like many users. It is scientifically proved! Studies even compare the effects of certain social networks to those of drugs such as cocaine and they even try to connect it to the addiction to sex to which it would be much superior. Many people seem to be aware of this, but not everyone, especially millennials and this seems even more worrying. They always tend to forget that their parents lived their youth fully without social networks and without a smartphone!
They tend to send us a bad image of ourselves
Focused on sharing pictures, Instagram, and Snapchat (to a lesser extent) are the social networks most likely to make us doubt our image. Before, we could feel lonely by seeing a gang of young people on the street, but now on Facebook, seeing pictures of your friends showing the ideal images of themselves makes you feel the loneliest person on earth and makes you think that you are not doing well or that you are not beautiful.
This is mainly because social media return an often-embellished overview of the daily life.
The latest dream vacation of these people, the photoshopped photographs of a well-known social influencer or his parties in the latest trendy places… all these are reasons that push every social media user to ask questions about his appearance and more generally his own life.
They can lead to depression
The UK organization RSPH that is specialized in mental health, also reveals that anxiety and depression rates have increased by 70% over the last 25 years and that social networks are directly linked to this growth. A study done in Canada, as well, by the City of Ottawa Health Agency points to excessive use of social networks, saying that : “teens who are on social networks for two hours or more a day are significantly more likely to have a fragile mental health, to be in psychological distress and to have suicidal thoughts. “
A negative feeling amplified by the fact that social networks generally include people of the same age, outside the family circle and therefore whose opinion is more impacting. “What can get depressing is to receive no return to a publication …» Michael Stora recalls.
They aggravate the feeling of isolation and loneliness
Here again, it is about whether we are abusing of it or not… American researchers from the Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania have shown that spending more than 2 hours a day on social media promotes significantly the feeling of isolation of children and young adults.
A well-known professor of pediatrics named by Elizabeth Miller says that it is possible that young people who were already lonely have turned to social media, or else it is the repeated use of these virtual platforms that may resulted by a break with the real world. Contributing to it can also be combination of both.
Many users will prefer, for instance, to communicate hours online than to make an appointment, thus making their human relationships virtual. It is as if we are social beings who are compartmentalized by modern life instead of bringing us together.
They can disturb our sleep
While school fatigue may have many origins, many scholars such as Katherine W. Keyes, author of a study on the evolution of sleep duration among adolescents, tend to think that the use of social networks constitutes today the main cause of the growing lack of sleep among young people. Compulsive connections involving interface does not derogate from the observation, it would even act in a very negative way on the sleep of Internet users.
A British study published in the Journal of Youth Studies, based on 900 adolescents in school, aged 12-15, reveals that 1 in 5 students constantly wakes up at night to connect to social networks. Students who wake up at night or at a different time each morning would also be significantly more likely to be constantly tired at school than others would.
Social media and messaging apps are not going away. We need to understand that social media is a tool that can either enhance our lives or undermine our lives, depending on how we choose to use it.
Authenticity and genuineness are becoming more of what everyone is seeking through social media. Although it’s easy to hide behind a screen, and appear to be someone you’re not, current technologies are now being used to see the real you in real time. Transparency is the new driving force behind online connections so that trust is built to form deeper and meaningful relationships.
“There’s no longer any distinction in most people’s minds between who they are, how they interact, and their cell phones.” – Dr. Laurie Nadel
By Jihad Benkaddour, 2017-2018 year group of M2 IESCI at the University of Angers