A friend of mine recently requested that I write about some of the darker sides to social media. While I champion the potential of social media, I also recognize the negative impact that it can have on our society. After all, as Uncle Ben wisely imparts on Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
So what are some of those negative aspects? In a society of instant gratification, surely we don’t often enough take a minute to think about our actions because most social networks boast efficiency, speed and ease of use.
For one, I truly believe that our face-to-face interactions with one another are suffering as a result of social media. While in-person and telephone conversations used to be outlets for dialogue and conversation, these conversations have become so much easer to take to the internet for a host of reasons. And while that’s helped a lot of people keep in contact, hasn’t computer-mediated communication also become a crutch for us to make difficult conversations “easier?”
And this 140 characters business? While I enjoy micro-blogging and shorter messages, research has been done to show that our brains are changing, meaning the way we process information is changing too. Anybody else find it more difficult to read all the way through an entire book any more?
Then there’s the heavy implications the grasp of social media has on self esteem, bullying and even violence. When a middle schooler posts a selfie on Facebook and doesn’t get as many likes on it as her friend, there’s all of a sudden a feeling that she isn’t good enough. And what of the many horror stories of posting inappropriate content that can never be truly deleted?
The list goes on and on of negative trends and serious issues brought about by social media. And it’s fine to make mistakes, to occasionally spend too much time sucking away your brain on Facebook and Reddit, but what’s important is how we learn from those mistakes.
To quote another superhero movie, it’s important we take Thomas Wayne’s advice to his son, Bruce when he asks, “Why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
So just like with pretty much every great thing in this world—chips, candy, Beyonce, TV, etc.—it’s wise to use social media in moderation.
Have a response or suggestion for a future topic to write about? Tweet me @jtleeman