Picture this. It’s an average Monday. You sit down at your desk and open up your favorite social media website. Maybe you post an update, maybe you check out what your friends did that weekend. But there’s one huge difference — it’s 2035 and social media has become a whole new ballgame.
What is social media going to look like by 2035? Will we be sending holograms to each other instead of Snapchats? Or will we avoid in-person communication entirely, only talking to people online? It’s difficult to imagine future technological advancements, as technology has changed so rapidly in the last decade alone. However, there is one prediction that is much easier to make.
Currently, there are several major social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Each were originally independent, though as time has passed some have been bought by larger companies. Therefore, it is highly likely that by 2035, there will be one company controlling every form of social media. A social media monopoly could bring high usage prices, a lack of innovation, and inefficient operations. In short: it could lead to a lot of problems.
Think of your daily social media usage. Do you prefer posting statuses on Facebook, taking the perfect photo for Instagram or crafting witty tweets on Twitter? Then, take a second to ponder this question: What’s the one thing each of these actions has in common?
They all depend on affirmation.
Most of us, even if we don’t want to admit it, post on social media to get a response from others — be it a like, retweet or a comment. But what happens if no one interacts with it? We begin to doubt ourselves and our relationships. One psychologist, Dr. Krystine Batcho, has commented on the growing danger of social media, stating that with “greater social media use over time, life satisfaction decreases”. She added that people often use online relationships as an escape from reality, distancing themselves from the real world.
This will soon be taken to a whole new level. We’ll become more selfish, which will translate to our online personalities. Life will become increasingly open to the outside world via personal livestreaming and invasive forms of social media, and our obsession with broadcasting a “perfect” life will grow. Nothing will be private.
“[With] greater social media use over time, life satisfaction decreases.” — Krystine Batcho, Ph.D.
In 20 years, the real life relationships we have with friends will be superficial at best. Through social media, we’re falsely comforted into feeling up to date with our friends’ activities. More assumptions will be made, leading to errors in judgment and unfortunate misunderstandings. We’ll only know what is online, and therefore only what people want to be seen.
Imagine this: cameras at every intersection, in every store, at every party, even in your fridge. The “What’s in your fridge?” trend that became popular with Periscope users nationwide marks a turning point for social media: in 2035, even the most mundane aspects of your life will be watched.
Now think: how many times have you forged your mom’s name on a form or done something similar? In 2035, what happens when someone scrolling through their newsfeed notices something like this? Even worse, what happens when they think that you’re breaking the law — even when you were doing nothing wrong? You’re instantly reported to the police, receiving a criminal record and ruining your reputation. In the future, video editing software will be capable of incredible things, affording most the ability to easily fake videos and evidence to falsely incriminate others. How will the public and law enforcement tell the difference between the truth and a lie? Our sense of justice and fairness will be put to the test, and our definition of “the land of the free” will be even hazier.
Today, we can manually “check-in” at our location. In the future, it will be automatic. Anyone looking at your social media account will have access to your location at all times. Convenient to meet up with friends? Maybe. But this modern day version of a tracker will leave people vulnerable. To give one example, online friends will be able to tell when you’re out of your house, leaving it susceptible to burglary.
In 2035, users’ lack of discretion may perpetuate a cycle of unregulated and dangerous information leakage. It may then seem normal to be able to find others’ private information on social media.
On social media, activist groups could have hundreds of followers, but when the time comes to act, few people are willing to come off the internet and actually make things happen. This is known as “slacktivism”.
This translates to other areas as well — someone could post about loving to travel but never leave their state despite having the capabilities. When they do attend an event, they are plugged into their phone. They experience life through social media, wanting to capture the perfect photo or video, illustrating the barrier between people and real world experiences. This will only be amplified in 2035.
Social media will create this “virtual lunch break” for children — instead of going outside or having face-to-face socialization, they’re interacting solely on social media. Instead of inviting a friend to play soccer, they invite them to play a social media-based game. In fact, in the future, relationships may exist only on social media.
Since social media will be able to constantly track our actions, both governments and businesses could use this to their advantage. If someone doesn’t document everything they do through social media, they will be considered an outcast — socially and in terms of tracking. Those who dismiss social media will be shunned and those who understand it intuitively will become popular. We are seeing the beginnings of this now, but in 20 years, it will be a way of life.
So, why does this matter now? It’s important to get a sense of where technology is heading so we can attempt to control the things that may lead to a dystopian way of life. With social media taking over the world, this information is critically important. We have the power to change the future, so we need to act before it’s too late.
Written by Emily Smith, with the help of Reilly Megee, Madison Akins, Amel Alyamani, Taylor Dixon, Emma Kate Protis, Mauli Desai & Madison Beasley.