Where would we be without social media? Probably still hunting and gathering, or using pigeons and sending smoke signals to deliver messages. What dark times we lived in.
But all thanks to social media, communication is faster, easier and less exhausting. For instance, we can order food, call an Uber and purchase products online, all from the comfort of our own home. We have the luxury to binge watch movies all day, and all we have to do, to get a date is swipe right. Life has never been easier.
Social media has not only helped to create employment, it has also activated the creative genius in us. It’s truly magical that we are able to instantly find blood and organ donors, and its all thanks to the big social. Social media should be added in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; we need it to survive.
But what happens when our utopia turns to dystopia?
In a world whose entire diet is social media, we need a conversation about how out of balance and unhealthy our lives have become.
The Downsides of The Big Social
People have grown naïve to the flip side of the social media coin. We have failed to consider the side effects our unlimited usage of the internet has on our personal lives.
Society is underestimating the ardent damages caused by social media.
1. Social Media Addiction
There are only two industries that call their customers “users”, Illegal Drugs and Software.
Social media is more or less a drug that we dose ourselves, every five minutes, so that we can feel the dopamine effect.
Dopamine is the feel-good chemical that’s released from our brains when we engage in sex, alcohol, nicotine, drugs and gambling. The aforementioned feeling is what we get every time we browse through the internet. And each and every time we get short term rewards disguised as texts, likes, hearts and thumbs up, dopamine is released.
We’ve conditioned our minds to interpret this false sense of popularity as love, value, beauty, and truth. And just like drugs, when left unbalanced, it can be addictive.
2. Mental Imprisonment due to Social Media
When the phone was tied with a wire – Humans were free.
One would say these tech gadgets have taken us hostage, since they are constantly tethered to our hands with tight invisible handcuffs; metaphorically speaking.
We’ve conditioned ourselves to believe that when we are uncomfortable, lonely, uncertain or afraid we have a digital pacifier to calm us down. This has led us to completely isolate ourselves inside a digital bubble.
This complete detachment from real life has led to anxiety, depression and an inability to take risks or even ask for help.
3. Imposter Syndrome
Social media has taken away our sense of self worth and identity, leaving us vulnerable to snapchat dysmorphia, depression and anxiety.
All and sundry have gotten so good at putting filters on everything to show how happy, strong and beautiful we are. But in a sense, all that’s truly valuable tends to constantly elude us.
We live in a world of instant gratification and we tend to become nervous, frustrated and agitated when we do not get immediate rewards. In a sick way, we’ve contorted the digital world to represent real life.
Life, relationships, or careers cannot be accelerated using an application or by the touch of a button. Given that no amount of fast-paced technology can prepare you for the slow meandering process of life.
The struggles in career progression, in building meaningful relationships and finding one true self are painfully slow. They can’t be rushed and they’ll have to be endured throughout one’s lifetime.
This harsh reality has seen a high number of young, impatient people getting depression, anxiety disorders, suicidal and homicidal thoughts.
5. The Spread of Fake News
Fake news spreads faster than true news.
Social media is often used to tap into user psychology.
Through the use of subliminal cues, our emotions are manipulated and our decisions influenced. Manipulative messages, spread via the internet, can influence voter decision and may eventually cause civil war.
We should always approach what we read on social media with cynicism, given the transition from the age of fake news information to disinformation age.
6. The Spread of Conspiracy Theories Through Social Media
Propagandists use social media to spread gossip and hearsay, to the point where we don’t know what’s true or false.
We often hear misleading conspiracy theories such as flat earth; moon landing; existence of the satanic illuminati cult; population control through vaccinations and many others.
Through willful ignorance from the public, this platforms have made it so easy for political polarization, political radicalism and constant attacks on the world’s democracy. All of this degrades the world’s democracy and erodes our social fabric.
Such polarization can ruin global economies and eventually cause existential threat.
7. Valuable Time Wastage in Social Media
If you are not paying for the products then you are the product being sold.
Social media’s predictive algorithms are making it easier to trade our attention in the big social marketplace.
These algorithms are designed to keep you online by feeding you with information that interests you. Unbeknownst to us there’s a gradual but imperceptible change in our own behavior; what we do, how we think, and ultimately who we are.
When it comes to mining our attention and time, they’re all too ready to throw their hats in the ring. The longer we stay online the more money they make.
How Do You Escape The Matrix Without Knowing You Are in The Matrix
Whether it be utopia or oblivion, it will be a touch-and-go relay race right up to the final moments
The race to keep people’s attention isn’t going away. Technology will become more integrated into our lives, and AI will become better at predicting what keeps us on the screen.
The fabric of a healthy society depends on us getting off this destructive business model.
So how do we get out of the Social Media Matrix?
Actions To Take
- Start by uninstalling apps that just waste your time and those that you don’t monetize. If you have a social media app find ways to monetize it and turn it into a business.
- Turn off notifications to avoid distractions. Get in touch with the real world; take nature walks. Spend time with family and friends. Take the time to enjoy your meal one spoonful at a time. Life is so much fun, don’t let social media take that from you.
- Don’t accept those cute recommended puppy videos, instead choose your own videos. This will help you to stay focused and you will save a lot of time.
- Before you share anything fact check and consider the sources. Make sure you are exposed to different points of view to avoid being judgmental. There’s beauty in diversity and everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
- Work out a time budget on how many hours you want to spend online. We all need a break from the real world. Set out a few minutes a day for entertainment and to catch up with the latest news. But don’t go outside of your time budget, stick to it.
- Most importantly always be kind. If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.
- And remember social media is just a highlight reel. Life is not as seamless or as glamorous.
This article is inspired by the Netflix documentary, “The Social Dilemma“. It’s based solely on having a conversation about the alarmingly dangerous effects social media has, not only on our social interactions but our mental health and the future generation at large.
Join the conversation at thesocialdilemma.com on how to take action on the proliferate platforms, “The Big Socials”.
Look out for the next post on how you can monetize social media and use it to your advantage.
Use the product, don’t let it use you.