Information age has totally revolutionized communication and through the use of technology. In the modern era, it is possible to communicate and get in touch with friends who are thousands miles apart. For instance, the use of Facebook or Twitter can enhance communication between a person in California and a friend who is in India or Dubai. Through the use of social media, many users have thousands, and in some cases, millions of friends. Social media is utilized in various ways including finding of life partners, expressing personal opinions, or even extending political ideologies. However, many unseen adverse effects are resulting from the use of social media as indicated below.
The extent of the use of social media is alarming. Statistics reveal that Facebook alone has around 1.1 billion users globally, which translates to around 13% of the entire global population (Van Deursen, Alexander JAM 412). The other main social media sites such as Twitter have hundreds of millions of users. The economic and social impact of the use of the social media is widespread and is growing with America recording a 5% increase in the number of social media users, which now stands at 78% (13).
Social media site’s undoing starts with the fact that they enhance the relationship between the large and diverse number of friends. To put this into perspective, one can have ten thousand friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter, but he only knows five or ten of them. The rest are virtual friends. The fact that such friends may influence and limit the social life of a person is dangerous (Best et al 26). The person may appear to be operating normally, but having online friends to the detriment of “physical” ones leads to a virtual life. Such a person may exhibit symptoms of withdrawal from the social circles and irresistible urge to overlook real friends for the online friends who are a socially dangerous (27).
An example would help to put this into perspective. A person having virtual friends consults them on social and interpersonal matters (30). The fact that there exists massive environmental, social, and cultural gap between the two individuals makes the same situation to appear different to the two friends. In the end, the adjustment of character and personality among the individuals who over-use social media is flawed.
The overuse of social media has contributed to an extensively sedentary lifestyle. Consider, for instance, conversations over Facebook or through Twitter (Choi et al 534). One can interact with a thousand friends without walking out of their rooms. The fact that they fail to exercise their bodies is a significant health detriment. In real sense, social interaction would have necessitated one walking to an agreed place to meet his friend and the emotional and physical balance is achieved (535). It is possible to organize or conduct events such as fundraising drives exclusively through social media.
Another negative impact of the use of social media is that it spreads emotions to an extensive group of people (Mesch et al). An example is necessary to put this point into perspective. Consider, for instance, an individual who is suffering from cancer and he has a thousand friends on Facebook, a thousand followers on Twitter, and two hundred contacts on Whatsap groups. If such a person posts his or her health status on social media site, everyone expresses their sympathy and well wishes (Choi et al 541). If, by chance, two other individuals are experiencing challenges in their health may post too. The rest of the friends end up being alert over their health too and can start to worry even with the slightest indicators that they may be sick.
In the modern era where emotions play a huge role in defining the course of lifestyle that one takes, social media has been a target for the people who want to destabilize the emotions of masses (Bolton et al 246). Consider terrorism as an example. Whenever a terror alert is posted, everyone using the social media is scared. The terrorists may as well achieve their goal of instilling terror by only using the social media to upload hoaxes that impact the emotional and economic lifestyles of the people (248). The fact that social media is utilized widely makes it a real target for them.
It is important to consider the influence of the social media on economic lifestyles of the people involved. It is necessary to mention that social media can be accessed through devices such as phones, tablets, smart TVs, laptops, IPad, and computers (Baumeister et al). The use of these devices to connect to the social media needs a connection to the Internet, which in many instances is an expense. Studies reveal that by the end of the year 2016, at least 78% of Americans had social media profiles (Choi et al 545). The fact that the number of social media users is growing at an alarming rate. The economic aspect comes into play having in mind that using most of these devices needs Internet or Wi-Fi subscription. Statistically, American youths use around 11 hours on their phones, tablets, laptops, or iPads (547). Therefore, it comes not as a surprise that running a social media site is one of the most lucrative investments, but the user of the social site ends up using a substantial amount of money.
Emotional disconnect is another product of the overuse of the social media in the modern era (van Deursen et al 418). However, the fact that emotional aspect of the contact between the parent and the daughter is not easily communicated through the social media, the end results is an emotional disconnect among the two (419). The fact that some personal and intimate issues cannot be addressed using the social media means that there is sufficient disconnect that arises when social media is used as a substitute for physical connection between friends.
Another way to which the social media is negatively contributing to interpersonal growth is through spreading lonely feelings (Best et al 34). Many dating friends post pictures with their fiancés. If one is single, the need to have a relationship arises and isolation becomes so exposed. The psychological influence of the user leads to desperate measures to end his loneliness, a factor that was not affecting him until he logged into the social media sites.
There is power in intimacy. Psychologically, some personal and intimate issues require secrecy and privacy (35). For instance, past experiences with the abuse of drugs, illicit sex may serve one’s emotional outlook if they are not exposed in public. However, the modern era knows no intimacy or secrecy. All aspects of life are vulnerable to a significant number of people known as friends or followers on social media.
Intimacy is based on secrecy and exposure of the inner aspects about an individual’s life to a limited group of trustworthy persons (Bolton et al 250). The fact that many believe that they can trust their online friends leads to the extension of intimacy to different persons. Mostly, moral and ethical decay may ensue as the personal issues are accorded a public outlook and there is no respect for intimate or personal values that do not conform to the publicly acceptable practices.
In any undertaking, the onset of the use of the social media enhances physical relationships and intimacy (255). However, social media now appears to be an end in itself rather than a means. Social media dating pages, for instance, are aimed at enhancing physical union among members. However, such sites have not improved on the numbers of single people. Moreover, though the use of social media is growing at a rate of at least 5% a year in the US, the social fabric is not recording such growth (Choi et al 535). Many people who seek love in social media are in fact looking for sex rather than established relationships.
Research indicates that Americans aged between 16 and 28 years are using social media for an average of between five to seven hours a day (536). In fact, it is the most common aspect practice among the youth in the modern era. Connection via social media has become an aspect that is a common defining factor. Everyone is seeking to have more friends and join more pages on social media, but the result is that one becomes a slave of the site.
- Baumeister, Roy F, and Kathleen D. Vohs. Encyclopedia of Social Psychology. Sage Publications, 2007.
- Best, Paul, Roger Manktelow, and Brian Taylor. “Online communication, social media and Adolescent wellbeing: A systematic narrative review.” Children and Youth Services Review 41 (2014): 27-36.
- Bolton, Ruth N., et al. “Understanding Generation Y and their use of social media: a review and Research agenda.” Journal of Service Management 24.3 (2013): 245-267.
- Choi, Mina, and Catalina L. Toma. “Social sharing through interpersonal media: Patterns and Effects on emotional well-being.” Computers in Human Behavior 36 (2014): 530-541.
- Mesch, Gustavo S, and Ilan Talmud. Wired Youth: The Social World of Adolescence in the Information Age. Routledge, 2010.
- Van Deursen, Alexander JAM, et al. “Modeling habitual and addictive smartphone behavior: The Role of smartphone usage types, emotional intelligence, social stress, self-regulation, age, and gender.” Computers in human behavior 45 (2015): 411-420.