Social media will be the death of our generation. With countless pings, dings, buzzes, pop-ups and hundreds upon hundreds of phone unlocking noises that come as a result of its worldwide domination, social media rules over our lives, whether we realise it or not. And the worst part is, there’s very little we can do about it.
Let’s start off this post with a case study — a rather loose one admittedly, but a case study all the same. Twitter is one of the most popular social networks on the planet, with over a billion users signed up to the website. Thousands of tweets are sent each and every minute, ranging from bite-sized Monday morning rants to inspirational quotes; from minimally-worded recipes to RIP messages; from humour to sadness. This dense network of users does, indeed, bring the world closer, allowing everyone to have not only a voice, but a platform from which they can use it. But as I’m sure you know, Twitter (like everything) has its dark side — for once, what your parents say about the Internet is actually correct.
Being a multimedia platform (meaning that people can express themselves through the freedom of words, images and videos), Twitter has played a part in creating a generation who rarely struggle to voice their opinions, thoughts, hopes and dreams online. Equally, it’s never been easier for this same generation to be damaged by multimedia content, particularly images and video content, from which they have little protection. How many times have you logged into Twitter, or Instogram, or Facebook, or your social media service of choice, and seen pictures of unnaturally thin models wearing clothes with price tags which are more than your parents’ average combined salary — excluding taxes? Exactly — they’re everywhere, and so in many ways, we have desensitised ourselves to it all; it’s just the way things are on the Internet: move on. Think, though: this isn’t normal. This isn’t natural, or human, or just. Companies (although there are some individuals who act similarly) are actively promoting pictures of, frankly, very ill people, saying that the way they look and live is desirable. It’s not.
But that is just one example of how social media is irreparably damaging us. Look at it like this: how many times do you post pictures, words or videos of happy, funny or positive moments in your life online? On the whole, we tend to post more about the happy times in our lives, as opposed to the more negative moments. Of course, there are a group of people who realise that this just isn’t a true representation of life, and post equally about the good and bad times, and that’s all well and good. Overall, on social media, people get the impression that their friends, their family and their favourite celebrities are leading lives of joy, smiles and fun-filled times, when that just isn’t true in 99.9% of cases. All too quickly, this leads people into a spiral of self-consciousness, and in some cases, causes people to show early signs of depression. Suddenly, everyone is of the belief that their life is worse, less significant and less social than those of the people surrounding them, when in real life, this is rarely true. And honestly, so what if it is? You are you, online and offline, and that is enough.
Social media is a dangerous, dangerous place, made all the more scary by the fact that we don’t always realise what it’s doing to us. Please, just stay safe online, and I’m not just talking about all the normal safety precautions, like keeping your profile private. I’m talking about the other stuff: thinking about the content that you’re seeing before you on social media, and what it really is; thinking about the consequences that the content you can see and the content that you’re sharing may have on not only others around you but yourself too; don’t allow your positively-inclined Facebook-posting friends to inadvertently convince you that you’re leading a substantial, insignificant life — because you’re not.
I don’t believe in begging for likes, comments or shares from my readers: each and every one of you read this by choice, and therefore you react to it as you wish. Just this once, however, I will break that resolve to say this:
* Dramatic Speech follows *
`Please, guys. If you at all agree with what I’ve said here, do consider sharing this post on social media (ironic, I know). This message is so important to me, and yet is not spread widely enough. Young people across the globe are experiencing the negative impacts of social media on their lives each and every day, but that doesn’t have to be so. Raising awareness of this issue can bring an end to it: please, be a part of that.”‘
* Dramatic Speech over *