Social media, a way to bring multitudes of cultures together through news, trends and even dating websites. It’s an all-knowing Wizard (subtle reference to The Wizard of Oz) behind a screen with unlimited knowledge. You want to know how to hide a dead body? Google’s got the answer! Is your dress too small? Buy a new one online! But is it really as good as we think it is? I mean sure, the Internet makes our lives easier in many different ways, but like all things, it has a dark side (subtle reference to Star Wars). It’s a place where likes decide your self worth, a place where privacy is nonexistent, a place where 60-year-old creeps can talk to 10-year-old children. So what exactly are you getting yourself into?
The Group Hangout
The “social” in social media implies a sense of socialization when using the Internet. But let me ask you a question, how many of your Facebook friends do you actually know or see often? And when you get together with those friends are you talking face to face or are you on your phone? Most social gatherings today involve some kind of screen rather than stimulating conversation. The Internet has enabled society to be anti-social while allowing us to think the exact opposite. The ability to like, comment on pictures, and send friend requests, creates a sense of socialization, when in reality, we are alone in our bedroom. A 2012 study from the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School found that 8% of people reported less face-to-face time with their family in 2000. That number rose to 32% in 2011. Another 47% of 18-34 year olds admitted to using social media or texting instead of talking to friends and family during meals (Procon, 2016). These trends lead to an anti-social society in countries with technology.
I hate to break it to you but that 21-year-old supermodel you’re talking to on Tinder is actually a 45-year-old man living in his parents’ basement. This is most commonly known as catfishing, where by creating fake accounts, predators have the ability to manipulate and deceive young children and adults. In the online dating community, 42% of Americans know someone who has participated in this new phenomenon of online dating (D’Costa, 2014). 58% of those online daters know someone who has presented false information on their profile. After being contacted by people online, 28% of the participants have felt harassed and uncomfortable (D’Costa, 2014).
In the child predator community, children are meeting strangers online and “falling in love”. According to a 2013 study, 30% of teen girls admitted to meeting up with a stranger they met online. 10% of those encounters ended negatively (Willett, 2015). The victims of catfishing suffer not only from emotional devastation, but also physical harm and in some cases, death. Due to the increasing popularity of dating websites and apps, the statistics are only rising.
The Cyber Bully
Cyber bullying is a growing issue. The Internet is more readily available than it has ever been before. Once you post something, it’s up for the whole world to see and criticize. Kids are especially vulnerable to this bullying, in which anonymous perpetrators can pose as other people to terrorize them. 87% of today’s youth have witnessed cyber bullying (Teensafe, 2016) while 49.5% of students admitted to being victims of online bullying (ProCon, 2016). In a 2015 study, they found that adolescent girls are more likely to be cyber bullied (41%) compared to boys (28%) (Patchin, 2015) .
Cyber bullying can cause a decrease in self-image and in extreme cases lead to suicide. Middle school students who are victims of this bullying are twice as likely to commit suicide (ProCon, 2016). However, cyber bullying is increasing across all ages, not just teenagers and children. For adults, the bullying is most often found in the form of trolling (Adult, 2014). “In the late 1980s, Internet users adopted the word ‘troll’ to denote someone who intentionally disrupts online communities.” – Schwartz. An example is 24-year-old Louise Stalker, who started receiving death and rape threats on Facebook and her blog (Watkins, 2013). This unfortunate reality of social media is a danger to current and future generations.
Privacy? Never Heard of It.
Social Media, in a way, has caused the demise of privacy. Anyone can find your profile and learn about you through friend lists, people you follow, posts, etc. As I mentioned before, once you post something, it’s there forever. Most sites allow users to customize privacy settings on their account; however, these setting can be ineffective or difficult to use (Jung, 2016). 13 million Facebook users said they didn’t know about the privacy settings (ProCon, 2016). Another 28% admitted to sharing all their posts publicly (ProCon, 2016). This lack of privacy opens the door to hackers and even the police and government officials who can access your profile and search for illegal behavior. Furthermore, future employers can gain access to your social media accounts and depending on what you post, inhibit your chances of getting that job.
Just One More…
Have you ever watched a cat video when you should be doing work? If you said no then you’re lying to yourself. We’ve all been in the position where we have to watch just one more or just a quick log in to Facebook. Syed Noman Ali, author for Social Media Today wrote “Nucleus Research reported that Facebook shaves 1.5% off office productivity while Morse claimed that British companies lost $2.2 billion a year to the social phenomenon” (Snow, 2015). Logging into Facebook causes an influx of dopamine in our brain. Meaning, Facebook is scientifically proven to be addictive. You get a hit of pleasure when you get a message or read a post from your friends. Furthermore, Salary.com reported that 89% of respondents admitted to wasting time at work on social media (Snow, 2015).
As you can see, Social Media isn’t as fantastic as you think it is. The Internet ruins social gatherings, subjects young kids to child predators and cyber bullying, diminishes privacy, and promotes procrastination. But despite it all, we’re going to keep using it anyway.
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