Open Letter to My Niece on the Evils of Social Media
I know that in this time and age your generation is faced with a great deal of anxiety regarding how well you fit in and where you rank on the social ladder. There is immense pressure to put yourself out there on the social media while hoping for a lot of likes, comments and all that jazz; but at the same time there is also fear of failure, of not getting enough likes or getting that one mean comment that might end up ruining your entire day or even week.
So today my dear, I hope that this letter of mine will serve as a medium for you to really understand some of the evils associated with the use of social media. Please understand that most of the information that you are exposed to online is very misleading and a mere false representation of the whole truth that not only limits you in very many ways but could also potentially destroy your concept of self-worth. The last thing I want for my very talented, smart, beautiful and unique niece is to narrow down her worth as a person to the number of followers, likes and comments she receives from a bunch of random strangers on a social media website.
I have put together a list for you that explain some of the evils and harms caused by the use of social media:
Cyber Bullying: Social media is a minefield for bullying and inappropriate communication. Being behind a computer screen gives people enormous power to be as hateful as they please and say things they could never otherwise gather the courage to say in real life. Therefore it is very important not to take such comments of hate seriously or better yet to avoid using these websites altogether until you are old enough to internalize the false reality of the online world.
Selfies and Self-obsession: The overgrowing addiction and craze of posting selfies online is causing way more harm than good. Not only do selfies place too much emphasis on physical appearance but they could also cause privacy risks.
Waste of Time and Lack of Productivity: Social media could lead to very unproductive use of your time and energy as it is a source of meaningless entertainment with no food for thought or learning opportunities. I would hate to see you miss out on learning new skills or having real fun life experiences and adventures just because you would rather spend time behind a screen searching for what others are up to.
Education: Spending too much time on social networking could take a real toll on your grades in school. The things of utmost importance in your life right now should be studying, gaining useful knowledge and learning good habits in order to develop a good character and personality and all of this could only be achieved by reading good books and following the teachings of your parents and teachers instead of getting inspiration from fake online friends.
Language Development: The use of ‘new’ abbreviations to express oneself on the social media hampers the language development, which in turn affects writing and reading both.
Negative Impact on Attention Span and Active Listening: Social media websites constantly bombard you with unnecessary amount of information that could have a very harmful effect on your attention span and turn you into an easily distracted person. Your ability to concentrate on things would reduce a great deal which again could lead to poor academic performance. Excessive use of social media also hinders your ability to be a good listener and empathize with others; this could have a negative effect on your relationships with real life friends and family.
Explicit Content: You will be exposed to content, people or situations that are out of your depth and which you are not emotionally prepared for.
Information Sharing: Research shows that 89% of underage kids share personal/family information to strangers on Internet. This could pose a great threat to the health and safety of you and your family members.
In conclusion, I hope that this letter aids you in understanding the dangers of prematurely delving into the world of social media and also helps you keep in mind the fact that social networking sites create a virtual world that is drastically different from the reality of things. There is nothing I want more than for you to embrace your uniqueness and grow into a person of your own, with your own thoughts, opinions and take on things rather than merely following the ‘trends’ you see on social media. I hope in some way or another this letter will help you decide what the truly meaningful things in life are and how much of this virtual world translates into real life. And if ever you feel that life is no longer making sense, I hope you know that I will always be here for you. No judging, just listening and sharing whatever little wisdom I have with you.
Your Salman Uncle
30th January 2016