Social MEdia: Part 2 (Week 5)

Social media is an important tool in today’s Western societies but just how negatively is it affecting our states of mind? While social media can have a positive effect on businesses and promote good causes, it can also cause severe addictions and indirect pyschiatric conditions. Nearly 40% of a survey conducted on 2000 Americans said they’d rather do the following things than surrender their social networking profiles:
  • Wait in line at the DMV
  • Read “War and Peace”
  • Do their taxes
  • Give up an hour of sleep each night for a year
  • Run a marathon
  • Sit in traffic for four hours while listening to polka music
  • Get a root canal
  • Spend a night in jail
  • Clean the drains in the showers at the local gym
  • Give up their air conditioner/heater

Are we a society addicted to social media?! The answer is yes. But why so? Of those surveyed, the main reason for their addiction came from “FOMO” or Fear Of Missing Out. The threat of missing a news event or popular life story is motivation to habitually check their feeds regularly. I am a regular user of Facebook and Instagram but have not been tempted or interested in other sites like Twitter, Pinterest or Digg. The content just doesn’t interest me. What does attract me to Facebook and Instagram is what my friends do and their capacity to involve me digitally in their lives. I use Facebook as a backup to my immediate contacts list and as a means of communicating with overseas and far away friends, receiving event invites and enjoying a web-based communication platform. However, I am not an addict and regularly go for weeks at a time without engaging in the Facebook process. I once was an avid user, determined on achieving “social acceptance and success” from my peers by posting pretty photos and witty statuses. Strangely enough, once I got a phone that had Facebook as a standard application and one where I could check my notifications anytime anywhere, my visits to the site decreased. I suppose you could attribute this to the old saying “you only want what you can’t have”; now that Facebook is at my fingertips no matter where I go, the appeal, demand and suspense no longer exist. As for Instagram, a photo sharing iPhone application, to me it is as engaging as any game you could download – simply a tool to ease the boredom in desperate situations. And even then I find Instagram itself boring.

In terms of important communication, I believe these sites inhibit real connections. Nothing can replace seeing a friend and interacting face to face; feeling and empathising with their emotions, reacting to their opinions and embracing physically. Computer-based communication is quickly replacing physical interaction and this concept both scares and frustrates me. Children are becoming increasingly illiterate as spellcheck and thesaurus replaces their dictionaries. They can’t write or punctuate because a computer does it for them.

But these websites are not just for communicating. They are supermarkets and advertising billboards and social tests. They are manipulative and responsive to our every action. Will society ever return to life without the internet? The future holds many opportunities, both good and bad, in relation to social media advancements.

Catch you later cats and kittens,

Anneleise xx

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