The 21st century phenomenon known as social media has swept and dominated the online mindset, along with polluting our daily lives and starting some questionable trends… ice bucket challenge anyone?
Not to have a social media account of some variety, or to be informed at the click of a button every 5 seconds of current goings-on, would make you out of touch, old and just why?
Why would you not engage with millions, wait, billions of people over the globe and connect in some small way to help make the world a better place? I can think of a dozen reasons. But wait, what’s that calling in the background? It’s not the chant of the crowd that changes anything, it is what that crowd does to the outsiders.
A dangerous, cult like reality has dawned on society over the last 10 years. Although prior to 2010 there was still the issues of online fraud, bullying and death threats, the recent decade has seen these issues amplified and made worse by the obsession with constant media and information in take. Hunchbacks abound as they slog to the local shop to pay with their phone. Who are They? The ones with little conscious thought of reality, to anything beyond the screen, so doped up on insensitivity and mind numbing tweets that not less than a terabyte could enter their minds at any given moment.
Hunchbacks abound as they slog to the local shop to pay with their phone
People suffer from fatigue at various levels. People suffer headaches, backaches among other pains. People can have emotional breakdowns. People can become mentally fatigued. People can suffer sleep loss.
When someone ignores the symptoms, they can develop into something far more serious. I suspect this is what is happening with chronic social media users. I use the term ‘chronic’ because the average daily user of social media will spend on average 109 minutes a day on it, according to statistics from 2020 (https://www.statista.com/statistics/507378/average-daily-media-use-in-the-united-kingdom-uk/). Average daily time using the internet on any device was a whopping 386 minutes. I think we can make an assumption, something accepted as true (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/assumption) that most people spend too much time using a digital device and too much time engaging… or should I say absorbing useless information from social media.
To what end though? We are only aware of a small percentage of online social media users who were subject to torment and abuse for prolonged periods when the news shows it. A lot of people are quite public, so to speak, about wanting to commit suicide and end up posting highly disturbing content on their social media pages, which can result in help being given, but not unusually will the social media site simply remove the content and nothing more is done. It cries out in large bold letters that suicide is a public health crisis which could not simply be fixed by removing the suicidal content of its depressed users from the internet. If you want to read more about the correlation between suicide and social media check out this: (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3477910/).
There has been suggestions in the not so long ago past that social media can lead to obsessive behaviour, depression, anxiety and a number of other conditions. Conditions expanded, radical groups (https://www.internetmatters.org/hub/expert-opinion/radicalisation-of-young-people-through-social-media/) use these friend sites to create and target young, sometimes angry and impressionable teens and children into becoming a part of their extremist groups. One example is the fairly recent case of Maysa – real name withheld – who was first contacted through social media (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/26/radicalisation-islam-isis-maysa-not-thinking-my-thoughts-not-myself). The initial contact quickly led to radical life changes, behaviour changes and general out of the ordinary goings on with the youngster. It was developing into a real life radicalisation, the young girl being ‘given’ a ‘phone and sim card’ to keep secret, with which she received the communications from the group. The even more recent cases that we don’t here about, highlight that more needs doing in regulating social media sites, rather than allowing extremist content or profiles.
Another issue that is overlooked is the idea that social media users can be anonymous. I do not believe that true anonymity exists online. You cannot for example make a fake name Facebook profile, as you need your number and email to verify your identity. YouTube is a little easier to navigate, but you now require a Google account to use a YouTube account. The companies still know the I.P address you registered from, they know your email and possibly your phone number, you may have uploaded pictures. Whatever information you give them, they keep and they use. This is also at risk of being hacked. Individual sites have become victim of such attacks, like the Adult Friend Finder 2016 breach, which saw 412 million accounts exposed. If you follow the rabbit, you will find blackmail somewhere along the line.
If you follow the rabbit, you will find blackmail somewhere along the line.
My point is not quite made yet. The invention of the social media trend. The sheep obeying the master, just as the sites intended them to do. They cannot fathom disobeying the digital code or the demands that seemingly random users place on them. A snake pit where the prey is in no shape to be trying to escape, just to accept its fate. If and when the trend emerges, so will those desperately seeking that elusive 200 followers, or subscribers, or those exhaustingly pursuing the dopamine highs of likes and comments (https://www.businessinsider.com/what-happens-to-your-brain-like-instagram-dopamine-2017-3?r=US&IR=T). Dangerous past trends, which have been miraculously branded as ‘safe’ just because the social media consensus is so, doesn’ tmean it is. Take the ice bucket challenge, just say its for a good cause and that will eradicate the risks. Take the recent dry scooping trend, people have posted videos so it must be safe right? What about the ice cream challenge, open that store tub, lick the ice cream and return to freezer… ******* seriously? The choking game, the boiling water challenge…must I struggle on, the idiocy is unbearable.
Being in this constant stimulation state cannot be healthy. Endlessly seeking a rush, or dopamine hit, a small wave of comfort is not how humans should live. It creates a competitive and dangerous world. A world where people will fight, even kill to be the best, the most liked, the biggest social media icon. Why? That hit, the rush, the thrill. Once they come back down to earth, the reality punches them so hard that it can resemble a mental breakdown. That’s called withdrawal. (https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-11-abstinence-social-media-symptoms.html) Even brief week long periods of abstinence from social media was enough to induce symptoms like boredom, and a sense of peer pressure to return, along with reduced mood, or unhappiness.
… reality punches them so hard that it can resemble a mental breakdown
I think I have got across my point. The systemic and epidemic usage of social media in the UK, among other countries, is at a critical point. Users have become drones who are being fed information that they believe they asked for, when in reality the social platform dictates your behaviour, and sneaky and intelligent advertisements can also dictate what you do offline as well along with buying habits.
If the world doesn’t want to walk straight into the fiery pit of hell that is artificial intelligence taking over, then this is what they could start to do:
- Start socialising
I don’t mean online. It’s okay to do it occasionally I guess, the issue is chronic and daily use where the usage becomes a habit which you cannot live without. I’m guilty of it, but I now only use WordPress and Twitter, and that is really the extent of my online interaction. I do watch YouTube, but I don’t personally consider that as dangerous as other sites, simply because you don’t need an account to use it.
Develop social skills or improve your existing skills by having real, sober, present and real conversations in person with other people. Do not use your phone, do not refer to the internet. Try abstaining from your mobile in the morning on the train or bus, or wherever you are in public and observe people. You will start to realise just how many people on that train are on their mobiles, sat in silence, scrolling absolute nonsense which they couldn’t care less about, yet are only doing so they don’t have to interact with anyone. I really, really don’t get this.
- Think for yourself
If you don’t start to form opinions for yourself, and you are already using smart phone and social media at 10, then you will grow up with a completely and utterly different perspective of the world. A viewpoint dictated by algorithm and code, where the news becomes your go to because you can’t get your ‘fix’ without that devastating ‘action’. The same applies to adults. Again I am guilty of this, of letting the internet and social media ‘news’ dictate how I feel and how I see the world.
These are the 2 best tips I can give to myself, and I wouldn’t tell you about them if I didn’t follow them myself. It’s hard to give up on something that is used by billions, is part of daily life, is rammed down our hungry throats and which will persecute you if you do not use it.
You have the strength.