Social media has quickly grown since its launch in the 1960s with the emergence of the internet. We are quickly becoming slaves to it without releasing it. Privacy is no longer a virtue that people uphold dearly. Many shares everything from ridiculously unimportant to the most important in their lives. One would wonder if acquiring a social media platform is equivalent to getting a Social Security Number. To this generation, being present means being present on social media. We are addicted to likes and impressions to the extent that one would think the number of likes and impressions one gets approves them whether or not they will exist in the afterlife.
Tremendous Increase in Social Media Users ‘
The number of social network users has tremendously increased. It is expected that by 2021, the number will increase by 0.37 billion from 2.65 billion in 2018. This is a third of the world’s populace. Internet access and an increase in smartphone access are the major fuel to social media usage, and it shows no sign of slowing. As of July 2019, it was estimated that there were 3.46 billion active mobile social media users worldwide. This number has increased tremendously at the time of writing this article.
Facebook is the undeniable leading social platform globally, with approximately 2.6 billion active users across the globe. Other social media platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat, Pinterest, TickTock, and twitter, while popular mobile chat apps WeChat, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, among others. These are applications and platforms that were created to connect us with our loved ones and long-distance friends. Are they performing the exact role they were meant to do? What might be the problem? Who is behind the problem? Do we see this as a problem in the first place?
Social Media or Marketing Platform?
Facebook is slowly moving from being a social platform to a marketing platform. If there exists no Facebook product, then you are the product. Facebook knows you more than you think. With Artificial Intelligence technology, Facebook will know even your next step and what you are about to read and take for dinner. Maybe you doubt this and asking yourself how it is possible! Ask yourself, how do they know what you like to watch and wear. You see those ads; they are tailored for you based on what you do daily.
Artificial Intelligence’s footprints are all over Facebook. From neural network learning to tag to image recognition. This feature makes it easier to find friends on the platform. If you are a member, you will be surprised at how much AI influences what you do in your day-to-day life. Are they integrating AI and machine learning for your gain or the company’s gain? Maybe you are saying that you have nothing to lose, and after all, you have 20,000 Instagram followers and 18,000 twitter followers. You are a celebrity!
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Your Image Revealed
Please don’t take me wrong on this or misquote my words on this. There is nothing wrong with the social media platforms themselves. Nobody did anything wrong while coming up with these inventions; they meant good than harm. The problem is how many people use these platforms to influence their daily lives without even knowing it. There are some individuals on the hunt for approval. They post ‘pretty’ pictures of themselves daily. This way, they are left feeling lonely and disconnected from the world of reality. Did you know that you can use social media effectively without becoming a lurker? Today we will critically analyze how social media ignites in us jealousy, the constant need for approval, and fear. Needless to say, it has severe effects on your mental health.
Frank Zappa once said, “Cocaine addiction that you make today will mean nothing later on when you get a nose decay.”
Social media doesn’t influence us but reveals who we are. All you do is a personal choice; nobody tells you to create a social media account and post what you took for lunch! Ask yourself, who even really cares before posting anything and watching your mind react to the question. Is it exceptional? Now put your phone down and take that walk. Haha, just kidding; post that pretty image.
Addictive More Than We Think
Marcus Aurelius once said, “Our actions may be impeded… but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its purposes the obstacle to our acting.”
Walk on the street, and you will see people glued on their screens like zombies just seeking distraction. Who would even think that distraction will be so valuable someday? If not chatting with your favorite friend, it is watching the favorite series you bought yesterday. No matter what you are doing, the computer and internet addiction is real. By now, we should even be having social media addiction disorder among the list of diseases.
Your brain usually releases a certain amount of dopamine, a hormone that is responsible for your happiness. When you post your picture on Instagram or Facebook and get the likes rolling, your brain will subconsciously register it as an achievement and release dopamine that makes you smile and happy. Apart from this, social media has ways of various mood-modifying experiences.
Self-image; The Big Issue.
Every girl on Instagram is a model. Gone are the days when models were only seen in magazines in advertisements. Social media provide tools that people use to change who they look like in reality to what they expect to look like and start comparing with others. People who spend most of their time on social platforms and photogenic have fallen prey to this habit.
Thanks to photoshop and other photo editing applications. The photogenic and those in constant search for approval can censor what they don’t like about themselves and share on social media. To them, it’s a beauty pageant every day. You are now wondering about that beautiful lady you sent a message and probably thinking otherwise! What if all aren’t following the same path? Find out by yourself.
The Fear of Missing Out
A psychological study conducted in 2016 found out that people who spend long hours on social media are likely to experience psychological distress. They can’t stand seeing their friends and even people they don’t know having a good time in quiet and lovely places. It is giving them a feeling of missing out and feeling less worthy. Compare and despair kind of attitude is what they follow. When they can reach their ‘friends’ status,’ they go by the mantra, ‘Fake it until you make it.’ Thanks to photoshop, they can travel anywhere around the world in the comfort of their own home. However, after the approval, they are left empty and distressed.
Self-comparison is a bad habit. It is linked to other depressive mental symptoms. This is what teens and most college students do while scrolling through their social media platforms. What did she post today? Where did they go for a tour today? What kind of hairstyle is she having? These are the questions that run on their mind while ‘socializing.’ Did you know that search things lead most young women to search for older men to date to give them money and fit in the ‘social system’? That’s an article on another day!
Sadness in Socializing
A study conducted with young adults in 2013 found out that constant use of social media platforms brings less moment-to-moment happiness. We thought it would bring a feeling of connectedness but served us with the opposite, and we are afraid to accept the outcome. The continuous use of Facebook brings a sense of social isolation. Spending time on social media platforms benefits you with nothing but its better fruits.
It’s all a Delusion
Remember that picture you posted during the day with positive comments and likes? You felt like you have reached on top of the world, right? Oh no, you go for that extra dose of dopamine, thinking that it will make you feel good.
Just like a cigarette addict, they go for one to chase away the cold and make them feel better, but they still find themselves in the same bottomless pit. Your brain is probably saying, ‘Error dictated, this is not how you respond or behave.’ Just kidding; it is the same brain that took you to seek the extra dopamine in the first place. You had a bad day, take a rest, and don’t go to social media. It will act as fuel to your distress.
Do you want to know what’s people think of your photo? Go to the comment section. At some point in your virtual social life, you or your friend have posted unwanted pictures of them. Did you check the comment section? People go into depression because of the harsh words in the ‘battling ground.’
Nobody is strong enough to fight it. If you think you are, then try imagining battling with 20,000 followers, you had on Instagram. Imagining this can take you into depression, relax, and either delete social media or spend less time there and get social.