The rise of social media has led itself tobecome the primary way individuals communicate in today’s modern world. It is aworldwide phenomenon and a way to connect with friends, family, and evenstrangers all around the world. It is the ubiquitous way people communicate.Social Media usage by youth is alarming and seems to be almost addictive,”According to a recent poll, 22% of teenagers log on to their favorite socialmedia site more than 10 times a day, and more than half of adolescents log onto a social media site more than once a day.” (O’Keefe & Pearson) Theextended use of social media has a significant impact on a young individual’smental health as evidenced by effects on our communication, friendships,self-expression, bullying, sense of humanity and isolation.
Social Media is used by many young people acrossthe globe. The purpose of social media is to enhance communication betweenothers. However, this technology is doing more harm than good. It is not onlychanging how today’s youth communicates, but how people interact with theirfriends, family, and loved ones. There is a strong concern in the media thatthe rise of social media platforms is abolishing personal interactions for theyounger generations. It is ironic that these websites and applications werecreated to help individuals communicate, but in reality is negatively impactingyoung adults’ social skills. In general, people use these websites to talk andshare insight into their lives with their friends that live in other cities,states, and countries. These platforms also allow users to connect withstrangers.
Similar interests and mutual friends or followers can create a senseof a personal relationship. This can cause a person to feel as though they havea stronger personal connection to others than they actually have. Thesewebsites are becoming the new way to make friends. These new friends communicatepredominately through the website or application.
Nevertheless, communicationis not the only way social media sites are used. Whencreating a social media page, people normally post content that represents themor their interests. They will post pictures of themselves and their friends andtheir friends comment on these posts. While adults are known to be morecautious about what they post and how they interact online. However, today’syouth uses social media in a way that could be seen as alarming. They immenselycare about impressing others, they gain a sense popularity through theinteresting pictures they post and how their followers and friends react to it.
The comments left on their posts mean more to them than actual word of mouth.In order to the sensation of popularity they want, they try to get a reactionfrom controversial and contrived images of themselves. There is a need to bepopular among youth which leads to “young girls and boys attempting to impressone another by showcasing themselves in mature situations or displaying theirphysique. For instance, many pictures that teenagers post online revealunderage drinking, smoking, and partying” (Zay). As a young person, sharingphotos that show illicit behavior and activity can be damaging to one’sreputation and also one’s future. Self-expression of a young individualdepicted by themselves on these platforms should be age appropriate.
Youngusers will not tarnish their reputation and future if they post friendlycontent like pictures of their birthday or a vacation. It is common practice for human resourcemanagers to try and access Facebook or Twitter profiles of potential jobapplicants to get to know about a candidate’s true identity. This becomes ahorror for many of the explicit posts are visible to the human resourcemanagers as the job seeker does not set their profiles to private.Inappropriate posts can lead to someone’s dream internship or full-time offerbeing taken away or remove the chance to interview for the position. Research hasfound that almost half of employers have rejected a potential worker afterfinding incriminating material on their Facebook pages. (The Telegraph) Someemployers have also checked the candidates’ online details on Facebook pages tosee if they are lying about their qualifications. Nowadays, younger generationshave a complete disregard for their own privacy, opening doors to unwelcomepredators or stalkers.
A young person’s habit of constant posting onsocial media has also made it become easier to target one another.Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that is only done online typically throughsocial media platforms. Bullying is strenuous on the individual when doneface-to-face, but is even harsher over the internet. When malicious commentsare posted on someone’s posts, anyone who follows both users can see them.However, since the attack is online sometimes there is no witness. This canmake it harder for a victim to tell an adult or get help.
The bully has aneasier time insulting the other person because there is no face-to-faceinteraction. These kinds of attacks are harmful. While bullying, in general, iswrong, cyberbullying is questionably the worst form.
The victims are morevulnerable and the insults made towards them are more malicious because”computers mask faces and the majority of insults, threats, and taunting go onwithout repercussion. There often is no make-up or apologies, because no onewitnesses the harmful effect the words may carry” (Zay). Young people need torealize that bullying is always wrong. There is no excuse for the lack ofempathy bullies have because they are not seeing the person in front of them.Social media should be used to communicate with each other and not to belittleothers. With young people’s habit of constant use ofthese social media, fewer people are conversing in person. Many people areexperiencing feelings of isolation due to the lack of personal interaction theyreceive on a day-to-day basis.
It is becoming normal to go have less humaninteractions with people on a daily basis. Young people are becoming morecomfortable with conversing through their devices and less with their mouths.The lack of human interaction is a direct result of social media platforms.
Without person-to-person interaction, we will lose our conversational skillsand experience discomfort with public speaking. Normal conversation andconfrontation will be made more difficult for young individuals in the futurebecause of their lack of experience with personal interaction, which can resultin the inability to read one another’s body language. This development is nothealthy step for society because humans are supposed to experience interactionswith others or else it can lead to poor health. This kind of isolation isdamaging to society because it is necessary to be personable. These newcommunication sites were made to improve communication, not destroy it. Thesesocial networks allow an individual to have thousands of friends or followers.
However, these supposed “friends” are sometimes nothing more than strangers oracquaintances. We allow strangers to view our pages and profiles forinsignificant reasons, such as seeing they have the same interest or go to thesame college. We spend more time online virtually interacting with others whenwe should be spending time with our friends in person.
This lack of time spentwith friends you see in real life can lead to shallower friendships. Manypeople care for their Facebook friends, but they don’t even know what isactually going on in their life behind the posts. While you might know what afew people had for breakfast from their posts online, you don’t know whetherany of them are struggling with a major life crisis. This is a ubiquitouspractice in online friendships now, as the relationships are only based onknowledge users chose to share with their followers or friends. It iscommon that people now don’t realize that they have a crumbling or ruinedfriendship. It all stems from an underlying fear of being alone. Social mediaplatforms help form meaningless friendships as noted prior.
The connectionmakes you feel as if you closer than in actuality. Friendship is about beingthere for each other and being able to tell each other about important issues.It is not about who comments on Facebook quicker or who likes your Instagramposts the most. For some reason, we are now valuing our friendships on thefrequency of interactions.
People will get angry if a good friend does not liketheir post or be jealous if a significant other likes another woman or man’sphoto. Social media can start negative feelings towards people because of theyinteract with others online. Theconstant use of social media is harmful to society and our view of humanity.When we contact our friends and family through these sites we are limitingourselves to impersonal interactions. Your Facebook profile is how others candefine you. You share your interests, your relationship status, your job, andappearance. This representation of an individual lowers how we perceive peopleand humanity. We are known only as what we write on our pages.
Our humanity iswhat lets individuals be their true selves. We have the right to control whatwe say and do, but should we have the right to give a false perception of whowe, individuals, are because of the posts we share. Everyone is unique becauseof who we truly are. If we stop connecting with people at a personal level,then we have lost the relationships between another that gives us meaning tolive and be a human being. We should be able to talk to one another at anintimate level about ourselves in person and make real friends.
These socialnetworks have damaged many things, but we must change our ways so that it doesaffect the way we are as human beings.Many people around the world use social mediawebsites and applications. These platforms are now being the main source ofcommunication for individuals and it is harmful to society and today’s youth.Social media needs to be kept as a tool to connect with others, but not be theprimary source of how we communicate with one another. Social media is a greatresource to allow long distance communication between your friends and lovedones, but there must be an endpoint. We cannot have social media become ourmain form of communication and interaction. While there are many positives tosocial media platforms, these positives outweigh the negatives that greatlyimpact many people. If we continue overusing the ideal of social media websitesand applications, then it will further affect our communication, friendships,self-expression, bullying, sense of humanity and isolation in only fatalisticways.
There will never be is a substitute for personal interaction or a kindconversation. Social media is a problem and we must reduce our usage of theplatforms for the good of humanity.