Social media has become a force of habit, and given its relative newness, there is very little reliable research about the ways in which it has affected society. Studies have come to certain conclusions about social media use and the effects it is having on the daily life of habitual users. According to brandwatch.com, there are over 3.75 billion social media users and people spend an average of 142 minutes per day on social networks. There are many ways in which social media can enrich your life but there are negative impacts of using these platforms too often. This list takes a look at both negative and positive ways that social media influences your daily life.
10. How We Get Our News
Many people report less time watching the news or reading a traditional newspaper and more time clicking news article links posted by friends on Facebook. For some people, the ease of access to news sources has been beneficial because they may not have followed current events before or had access to a range of information. Unfortunately though, more often than not, people share news articles from heavily skewed sources that have aided in creating bias and consequently a rift between opposing factions of society. Social media allows for an enormous amount of misinformation to circulate and can be a powerful source of propaganda for political campaigns. Some have likened social media networks to an echo chamber where you only entertain the ideas of like-minded people and share information that promotes those ideas. You need to evaluate the source of your news and find out whether it is credible and unbiased; if the news source leans politically right or left, they are not a trustworthy news site.
9. How We Market and Campaign
Further exploring the idea of propaganda, companies and political campaigns have a powerful tool at their disposal for a relatively low cost compared to traditional forms of marketing and campaigning. In terms of marketing, it is very simple for any company to boost their posts to advertise their products and services across social media platforms. In fact, according to brandwatch.com, social media networks earned over 8.3 billion dollars in advertising revenue. This is great for small businesses looking to expand as well as new businesses getting off the ground but can be a little much when your google searches start appearing as advertisements on your Facebook feed. The most concerning aspect to the ease of information dissemination is that political agendas can come in many forms convincing people to believe one way or another, to vote for parties that may not have their best interests at heart but use clever attack ads and silly memes to defame the opposition.
8. How We Meet New People
Social media has made it way easier to find your tribe, no longer do you have to rely solely on creating friendships with the people we go to school with or work with. You can join sites like meetup.com or find similar interest groups on Facebook. These groups can help you find people that you share common interests with like photography, hiking, or board games.
7. How We Date
More and more people are meeting and forming relationships from meeting on social media dating sites. There are some obvious drawbacks to this type of relationship hunting, for example; people tend to project a sugar-coated version of themselves online but in reality, are not as wonderful as they may appear. Meeting people face to face can be dangerous and thus it is advisable to always meet someone in a public place and to arrange your own mode of transportation to and from dates. On a positive note, online dating has helped so many lonely people find someone that makes them happy bringing more love into the world and forming new families. In some cases, a relationship was not in the cards but friendships began from failed dates.
6. How We Entertain
You can follow humor pages, watch limitless hours of random videos, read an astonishing array of text, and mindlessly scroll through the lives of your friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers. You can then share all of this entertainment with your network and they can share it with you; this is a never-ending cycle. Never before in history has the human race been so entertained yet the cost of this constant barrage media is that we fail to be bored. Being bored is essential for our brains to process information effectively and also helps with creative thinking; being overstimulated means that we don’t have time to think about things we are learning and seeing thus we can’t retain and process information properly.
5. How We Learn
With social media being such an important source of information, it stands to reason that we are learning from these networks. When someone posts an article or video we glean new ideas and information from these sources. Social media platforms like YouTube are literally resources for education, people can post videos on all manner of subjects that offer up a more entertaining way to absorb information. There are a plethora of tutorial videos that can teach you how to cook, how to dance and do makeup, how to draw, and even self-defense.
4. How We Communicate
This is an obvious one, considering all the different platforms that exist to message one another. We speak less to one another and rely on written communication to connect with others. We use emojis to express emotion in text and use abbreviations to relay actions and common sayings like ttyl (talk to you later) or ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing).
3. How We Are Bullied
Young and old, people are not free from bullies on the internet. People have the tendency to be far harsher with their words behind a computer screen than in person leading to potentially dangerous and bully-like behavior. Unfortunately, cyber-bullying is a major threat to the health and wellbeing of teenagers. Parents need to be hyper-vigilant about their children retreating into their bedrooms with their devices because it allows their children to bully or be bullied without the knowledge of adults. Intense cyber-bullying has lead to suicide in young students and has emotionally traumatic consequences. Unlike bullying in-person, cyberbullying can reach you anywhere, anytime which makes it all-consuming and can have disastrous ramifications.
2. How We Use Our Time
You can save time using social media to get information quickly but more often than not, perusing social media is a massive time waster. Rather than using your time to read a book, people often resort to scrolling through Instagram to occupy their minds. In fact, many studies are starting to report a decline in reading for pleasure which can have an adverse effect on literacy skills. Social media also has the power to make people lazy, instead of using your time to get out and enjoy nature or get some exercise, people are spending their spare time sitting around, absorbed in their devices and less time physically moving their bodies.
1. How We Perceive Ourselves
Psychologists have been studying the negative impact of social media on self-esteem. People have mastered social media to craft idealistic versions of themselves that others follow and then feel less than or strive to attain when in reality these standards are unattainable. Instagram stopped tallying likes for each post to help deter people from putting too much emphasis on the number of likes their posts get. Many people reported feeling less anxious about the reception of their posts.
Some studies have concluded that while the purpose of social media is to make you feel more connected, it actually has the opposite effect making you feel more socially isolated. When you see others interacting and doing things that you cannot or have not done, their posts getting more likes and views than yours, it makes people think they are less popular or likable than others. Habitually using social media enhances these feelings and leads to depression, anxiety, and the pressure to project a certain image of yourself.
However you use social media, there is no doubt that it has changed your daily life in some way. As with everything, practicing moderation and self-control when using social media is the key to making sure you don’t devolve into mindless information sources and forget how to critically evaluate what you are seeing and hearing online.
About the Author
Chelsie Joy writes a travel blog, Joy Adventures and is based out of Montréal, Canada. Having taught in South Korea, UAE, and Czech Republic, she has had the opportunity to travel widely and developed a passion for writing about her adventures. She specializes in writing about travel, fitness, the arts, and the environment.
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