Social Media Plays the Devil While We Lose Our Humanity

Social media may be the devil embodied in a platform ridden by unfiltered, uncensored, images and language that are problematic for our spirits. While we want to exercise our liberties and freedom of speech, we must acknowledge that this comes with a caveat and price. The devil will come knocking on our doors and we will have to pay the price — this time it is our freedom and humanity — more importantly, our very spirit.

This is not a religious piece, but I am arguing that what is happening right now through social media will debase our humanity and will continue to attack the ability of our spirit to thrive. I would argue our spirit is the energy force that gives us vitality. It is our existential selves and how we connect to the universe — a higher power, Supreme Being, or God-force. It is the place we attend when we meditate, pray, and need to receive answers to moral dilemmas and everyday challenges. However, if we no longer find solace here then we become spiritually dead and trapped in a cycle of self-destruction.

Why is social media the devil? A woman on the radio indicated every advancement in technology has two sides — one that provides us with greater opportunity to communicate, identify diseases, etc. and then the other side. The other side is what we are seeing today — if more than 91% of adults in the United States own phones than many of them are hitting the “record” button and giving us access into their everyday lives, but what happens when their daily lives reflect violence? What happens when our children see this violence? And, what happens when many of us who become exposed to this violence over and over again are unable to filter this violence or access the mental and spiritual support to cope with this violence? What happens when we see this violence occur over and over again for a certain group of people — children, Black and Latino populations, religious and ethnically marginalized people, etc?

Maybe a heightened sense of anxiety, the prevalence of more depressive symptoms, and a sense of hopelessness. In the United States, more than 40 million adults suffer from anxiety disorders. Depressive symptoms such as fatalism, feelings of guilt, worthlessness are prevalent across varied age populations and backgrounds, but women and people between 40 and 59 experience higher rates of depression than other groups. Moreover, the impact of exposure to violence and its associated effects may be the most disparaging for young people. Studies are finding children as young as 5 begin to show signs of suicide ideation.

Everyday violence is front and center on Facebook, our Twitter and vine feeds, etc. We are getting front row seats to reality through our social media platforms and cellphone. This violence is not always physical but includes psychological violence — emotional violence — degrading and derogatory language, threats, and shaming.

· Steve Stephens decides to post the murder of an elderly person in Cleveland, Ohio.

· Fights posted on YouTube depict classroom, neighborhood, and even street confrontations between children and adults.

· The killing of unarmed citizens by law enforcement.

· Cyberbullying and media platforms, whether that is YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. that allows individuals to use enflaming and hurtful language — those cyber trolls.

The DSM-5, a statistical manual used evaluate and help diagnose mental disorders, indicates trauma involves experiencing or witnessing death, serious injury, and sexual violence. Trauma is distressful and while some people may not develop the same negative symptoms, many of us will see either physical or mental changes after exposure to trauma — specifically violence — to include hyper-vigilance, sadness, elevated blood pressure, etc. Unfortunately, those who are the most vulnerable, economically disenfranchised children will receive little to any treatment or support to deal with the effects of violence.

Violence exposure at the family, neighborhood and media level leads to anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders. If you are poor you will more likely to engage in self-medication (e.g.. drug use) or experience incarceration versus treatment.

We live in a society where everything is accessible through soundbites and video images. Maybe this is the plan. Produce a point of chaos, produce a world of madness where we normalize violence and viewing violence — where we desensitize our psyche but are unable to rid ourselves of its physical and mental effects. Maybe that is the plan — with our humanity gone and everyone on medication — we are unable to challenge this system to be accountable and hold up to its ideals of justice and freedom.

We can tune out but that is quite problematic. We have to find solutions and I am open to those who want to find them. If not, our spirit will remain under attack people and this shit is going to get worse.