Social media has been in existence for longer than one can imagine. As a matter of fact, it had its genesis with the advent of computers. The need to connect the computers over a network for sharing information inadvertently gave rise to humans needing to communicate with each other discreetly, and hence, the earliest forms of the modern social media format had its roots in the 60s. It was only in the 90s, with the mass scale implementation of the internet, that the true force of this novelty took shape.
Launched in 1997, SixDegrees was a website that is often considered to be the first social media platform for the masses. What followed suit was a torrent of other websites in the early 2000s and social media truly took the form of a gigantic internet country. Today, it is much more than that. While retaining its core values of facilitating its users to share content with their friends and loved ones, social media has also contributed to some really harmful effects for society and culture in general, and should therefore, be treated with caution. This article outlines the dark side of modern social media.
- Selling of a user
With powerful advancements in analytics and data science, it is very easy for internet companies together information about a user in a variety of ways. Because a typical user is constantly plugged into this digital matrix, his lifestyle, habits, interests, hobbies, schedule, in fact his body vitals are all captured as data which can potentially be sold to an advertiser by the internet company.
- Negative Behavioral traits
People primarily use social media to check on what other people have bene up to. And oftentimes they share the best part of their lives, be it good profile pictures, imagery of the latest vacation they did, or simply talking about their achievements in the open forum. Such posts can trigger depression and anxiety among those who are going through tough times, and hence, the more they see people well off, the deeper they go into their own self inflicted peril.
- Online scams/bullying
There are many sensitive or novice users on social media platforms who often fall prey to cyber crimes and theft of sensitive data. They are lured by their human weakness to connect with people and therefore fall easy prey to anyone who’s looking to gain access to their financials or personal data. People also fall prey to sharing private imagery to such scammers which later wreaks havoc in their lives.
- Loss of interest in the “real world”
Generation Z, or people born in the year 2000 or after, is the first generation to have access to unlimited social media while they are still in school, and because of this exposure at such a tender age, they get disillusioned with the real world and making friends in real life. As a result, we often see children completely engrossed in their devices most of the times without any interest in who is sitting right beside them.
- Political propaganda
On paper, it is a terrific idea, as political figures can reach millions of people in the blink of an eye to convey their message. The problem occurs when the message itself is the wrong one. More often than not, political parties and figures just use Social media to incite hate and revolt between factions, by playing with their emotions. Unfortunately, there are dedicated IT cells foreach political organization with the sole purpose of creating hateful propaganda to aid their own interests.
- Addiction to Social Media
There comes a point in time when the average user just cannot get enough of the digital playground. The constant need for notifications and news feed updates gets the better of a person and he/she subsequently cannot live without the personal device anymore. People are known to have gotten panic attacks or depression if they don’t get a dose of their social media drug on a daily, or in severe cases, a minute on minute basis. Getting them to leave their devices becomes almost the same as curing an alcoholic from his addiction.
- Unrealistic life and body expectations
The number of filters than can be applied to a digital image on social media is baffling. People can pose themselves as the other sex, look like old people, look like celebrities or even look like animals. And for gen Z, which spends most of its time on the virtual playground, it often translates into them thinking very poorly of their real selves. Its like they want to remain in the digital domain for as long as possible, and that’s worrying.
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