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Social Media, or Anti-Social Media?

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

by Sloane Moriarty

How many face-to-face conversations have you avoided, knowing in the back of your mind that shooting someone a text would relieve you from a painful and awkward situation? How many people do you text or Snapchat, or whatever your preferred mode of communication may be, without ever talking to them in person? For a typical teenager, that number is probably uncomfortably high. This raises the question: what’s really so social about social media? You would think with how simple it is to socialize now, by sending out a message to any number of people, even ones you don’t know, that people, in turn, would get better at communicating with one another, but this isn’t the case. Instead, due to social media, in-person, old-fashioned forms of communication are plummeting, along with people’s self-image, which makes it more difficult to establish “real” connections with one another.

As the age of social media rages on, it takes with it all the communication skills of younger generations. Teenagers, the most susceptible to the shortcomings of social media, will never have the chance to grow up in a time where they don’t have technology at their fingertips. A prime example of social media’s downsides is shown through Facebook; a company whose purported goal is to “Bring the World Closer Together,” but instead pulls people apart. Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg have recently been under fire for their knowledge of the negative effects that its subsidiary company, Instagram, has on teenagers. A Wall Street Journal report concluded that Facebook has done a handful of internal studies that have repeatedly shown the impact of social media; one of the key statistics discovered through their research is that one in three adolescent girls have a negative body image because of Instagram, and one in seven adolescent boys feel the same way. As a teenage girl, I know the impact of what a negative self-image can have on one's social desires. The feelings of not wanting to go out, not wanting to eat, and not wanting to be seen because of a tarnished self-concept is not unfamiliar to teenagers.

Social media’s greater negative impact may be the oversharing and false realities that occur, undeniably damaging people’s relationships. A social media study conducted by Kaspersky Labs shows this detrimental pattern. 16%, or one-fifth, of people surveyed said that their relationships have been damaged due to compromising situations that were revealed through social media. This continues with the desire people have to portray themselves as someone they aren’t online, just to get likes or be socially accepted. For example, 12% of people said that they would pretend to do something or be somewhere that they truly weren’t if they were to receive more likes.

No matter how strong, obvious, or damaging social media's impacts are, the whole technological revolution is not going to come to a crashing halt anytime soon. This is just the beginning of social media. Oftentimes I wonder what our future looks like with regard to online communication. Will we resort to strictly texting? With such advanced technology, will we even need to leave the safety of our bedrooms? Everyone, students and teachers especially, felt the struggles of communicating online due to the pandemic last year. When it hurt our grades and hurt our learning, we criticized working online. So why can’t we do the same when it comes to our mental and social health?

For the time being, however, we will all continue to scroll aimlessly through pages of people we hardly know, stopping momentarily to answer a message from someone we text almost 24/7 but barely see once a week. The fact of the matter is that social media is on a speeding train that's moving incredibly fast; it will never fully stop and its negative effects are never going to derail it. However, we can try our best to jump out of the way. Social media’s downsides are something that we can’t ever change, but we can change the way we let it impact us.


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