Social media is a placeholder for the things that now dominate our attention economy. These technological innovations have become monsters that are “ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” says an ex-Facebook, venture capitalist. Now, the creators are left feeling like Dr. Frankenstein, decrying their own creations.
However, social media is not all bad. It is a bazaar of ideas, information, and, otherwise, experiences unshared. Social media wears many hats and changes often: Internet forums; picture sharing; weblogs; wikis, pictures, and podcasts (oh my!). The tech behind it is nothing to sneeze at either. These include blogs, wall-posts, IM, email, vlogs, music-sharing, and voice over IP. Put these things together and you get some big names like, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and the like.
In a sea of options, we are left with a paddle, but no compass. Lost in a mire of indecision we get set adrift, aloof to the mainstream that dictates our cardinal direction. You’ve probably heard how a certain social networking site causes loneliness (surprise). And now even American officials are calling for action against these social products. The truth is social media, despite its intent to bring people together, has done more harm than good to our relationship with our friends, families, and beyond. The stuff we have come to clutter our lives with has begun to erode the long-held tradition of physically communicating face-to-face.
However, the CEO of Take-Two (maker of GTA and NBA2K) disagrees. “No, I’m not buying it. Technology enhances our life,” Strauss Zelnick says. “Like everything that enhances our life, used the wrong way it’s not a good thing.” Of course, social media was created to bring people together and to foster social interaction. It has created a generation of activists (or maybe, “Slacktivists”). If anything, it has the power to inspire and give voice to the voiceless. But, what of the people who do not know right from wrong? What of the children? Because the prefrontal cortex isn’t developed yet in our young, they have trouble with self-regulation and executive function skills.
The trouble that arises is that many people get stuck in a social feedback loop. We socialize with the same small circle every day-in and day-out. We need to place higher value on social skills that can only be learned through an open mind and from new people with different backgrounds. The point of social media is to bridge the gap between disparate locations, to globalize our thoughts. Conversely, we feel mentally unstable. A lot of these issues came as a byproduct of social media.
Undoubtedly, social media has its advantages and has helped many relationships. But, we need to learn to use these tools and not have them use us. We need to relearn, to a certain extent, how to interact with others. we need to connect with people, not Wi-Fi. Instead of looking at through a glowing rectangle towards your feet, be involved with those around you. If you take a little walk around your neighborhood, you’re likely to see a group of people sitting together, yet none of them are present. They are at once together, yet all alone. It is important to check in on those that live far away, but we mustn’t forget those whom we share a home.