Since Facebookwas founded in 2004, social media has grown at an exponential rate, linkingnearly everyone on the planet. In this age of instant communication andconstant uploading or downloading, the convenience of social media in oursociety is undeniable.
Is social media all good though? Sites and applicationssuch as Facebook and Snapchat are having a negative impact on society, a factthat cannot be ignored for much longer. With social mediabeing used by most of the world it is worrying how prominent the negativeeffects are. The impact on users’ mentalhealth has been the focus of many studies over the past few years. Thesestudies have found correlations between social media use and depression,anxiety, sleep deprivation and increased suicide risk. The blue light ourdevices emit has been found to repress the production of the hormone melatonin,which facilitates sleep.
The convenience of instant or video messaging hasreduced the need for physical social interaction. When people are not interactingbeyond their computer screen they become less skilled at talking to people andbeing in public in general. This leads to increases in social anxiety anddepression. A problem thatextends these is the impact these sites have on the self-esteem of its users.
The likes of Instagram and Snapchat, where filters hiding or enhancing certainfeatures, are dangerous for people’s self-image. According to bbc.com, a surveyof 1,500 people between the ages 18 to 34 years old find these sites make themfeel unattractive. The constant notion that we need a filter, or betterlighting to be able to take a decent picture is damaging to our society as awhole. Studies have found that prolonged use of these sites causes users’ lifesatisfaction to decline over time. A constant barrage of better looking peopledoing more interesting things is enough to make anyone feel worse about theirlives.
One of thescariest aspects of social media is its ability to spread misinformation like aplague. It is an unfortunate fact that a large proportion of people willbelieve most anything they read, so long as it corresponds with their currentopinions. This allows organisations and groups to spread false or misleadinginformation to try and rally their base for or against an ideal. It alsoenables trolls on the internet to post lies to spread panic. Not a recent yearhas gone by without at least a couple of celebrity death hoaxes to send theFacebook community into mourning. People have started to get their news fromFacebook headlines as opposed to reading the article. This has people takingthe headline and fabricating what they believe the story is.
These people thenshare their idea of what happened with their friends online and the lies spreadeven further. Social media hasbecome integrated in our daily lives. It makes communication easier, sharinglife events and viewing people’s opinions. The problem is that at its currentstate social media is starting to have adverse effects on its users. Users’wellbeing is being damaged and people are constantly having false informationreaffirmed in their minds. Social media is creating a generation of misinformedunhappy people that have others like them convincing them they are right.
Thisis a danger to our society and it is coming to the point where there needs tobe a change before it’s too late.