The Dark Side of Social Media

What I can not deny is that yes, social media has brought great opportunities for the world such as reconnecting with old friends, staying in touch with relatives, marketing for new products, events & musicians, a few memes or even just simply a place to write & share photos from our vacations & day to day experiences. But at what cost has social media truly charged us? Social media has become one of the largest causes for modern day loneliness, insecurity, & narcissism.
 
 From Facebook to Twitter, social media has made us more easily networked than ever. We have the ability to connect with anyone at anytime. Yet with all this connectivity to billions of people, we somehow have never been more lonelier. Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist at New York University, wrote:

Reams of published research show that it is the quality, not the quantity of social interaction, that best predicts loneliness.” 
 
 What we call our “friends”, have become merely a stamp of a face in a book. Overtime, it is as if we are simply collecting stamps or in results, friends. During our interactions on these social networking sites, we have suppressed the real meaning of intimacy within a friendship by exchanging 10 second photos, 6 second videos, & 140 characters. By doing so, we are sacrificing conversation for unfulfilling connection. 3,500 friend requests later, we once claimed to have friends but in fact we are lonely.
 
 Based on Dunbar’s Number theory,

Dunbar has found 150 to be the sweet spot for hunter-gatherer societies all over the world. From the Bushmen of Southern Africa to Native American tribes, a typical community is about 150 people. Amish & Hutterite communities — even most military companies around the world — seem to follow the same rule.
 
 The reason 150 is the optimal number for a community comes from our primate ancestors, Dunbar says. In smaller groups, primates could work together to solve problems & evade predators. Today, 150 seems to be the number at which our brains just max out on memory.
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 Based on further research, to have 3,500 friends is just not mentally & emotionally fulfilling as we think it should be. Which in fact & in the end we are only damaging our psyche. 
 
 Jon Negroni, world famous internet blogger wrote: 
 
“Plenty have researched the link between social media sites & depression. A 2012 study found that there is, in fact, a high correlation between depression & use of major social network, Facebook. The study assessed the risk of depression among highschoolers & compared the risk rate to links between depression & TV use, to name one.
 
 Other studies somewhat disagree. Huffington Post discussed a few related findings & found that there seems to be a stronger case that social media doesn’t cause anxiety or depression, it just pushes already at-risk people off the figurative cliff.

 
 Regardless of what studies are true, social media is respectfully quite a recipe for disaster with the average insecure teenager. 
 
 Now imagine this scenario: You post a photo on Instagram & every hour you scroll through the list of people who liked or commented on the photo that you posted. In surprisingly common cases, that hour is actually every 5 minutes.”

“Oh, I got 19 likes…. Oh I got 10 more! Oh… so and so commented!”

Insecure people are always seeking approval for the things they do and social media is an easy way to set fuel to the fire of addiction. 
 
 As I stated earlier, conversation in social media was a large factor into this recipe for disaster. So what is the big deal about having a face to face conversation? 
 
 You can’t control what happens. However, with social media all of these websites let us control how people view us. Social media lets us present ourselves as the cool kid we all wish to be. With social media we get to edit & that means we get to delete. We get to rewrite our status five times before posting & we get to use blemish fix & Snapchat filters for our photos.
 
 During an interview with John Cacioppo, a professor at the University of Chicago, he talks about the Science of Loneliness, “…now most people use Facebook to leverage face-to-face interactions, but some use it as a substitute. Metaphorically, that’s like eating celery. If you’re hungry, it’s better than nothing, but it doesn’t provide enough nutrition.”
 
 Over time, we become psychologically conditioned; I have to take a picture of my food when I eat, I have to post my baby picture only on Thursday, I have talk about my crush only on Wednesday, and so forth. We increasingly define ourselves in terms of our social media profiles & feel the need to share constantly to feel heard & embraced; “I share, therefore I am.” Now at what point does constantly seeking admiration from others become narcissistic?

And here is a challenge for you reader, the next time you go to a concert, cut your phone off!
 
 What is narcissism? Simply put, it can be described as excessive interest in oneself & one’s physical appearance. Narcissistic personality disorder involves a preoccupation with self & how one is perceived by others. Narcissist pursue gratification from vanity & the admiration of their physical & intellectual attributes. 
 
The Best Computer Science Schools conducted an info-graphic study on the alleged Selfie Syndrome.

Based on a study of Facebook users ages 18 to 25 using the Narcissistic Personality Inventory & Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale, people who use Facebook the most tend to have more narcissistic or insecure personalities & those with higher narcissism scores were frequently updating statuses, posting pictures of themselves & using quotes or motto to glorify themselves.
 
 In a University of Michigan study of college undergraduates, it was found that those who scored higher in narcissism also posted more often on Twitter. Young people are using Twitter to broaden social circles & broadcast views. This usage leads people to over evaluate the importance of their opinions.

Is narcissism an inevitable reaction to our social culture?
 
As you can tell simply off the three symptoms: loneliness, insecurity & narcissism, social media has had quite a negative effect on society. Even further than these three, social media can cause more such as depression, hate, laziness, relationship issues, stalking, suicide & more. The research, the statistics, the correlative studies, & the first hand experience do not lie. The biggest problem when it comes to these types of things though, is that it’s normally a subconscious matter. People do not even realize how they have become psychologically conditioned from their social media use. 
 
I myself can agree to some of the studies results taken place,

I have become addicted to the idealism that I can receive admiration & connection to satisfy a lonely void at any time I want with simply a few button. Social media also offers us three deadly lies: we can put our attention wherever we want, we can always be heard, & we never have to be alone.
 
This idealism is simply too strong for anyone suffering with insecurity or other interpersonal problems. Even if you were to call someone out on this idealism they would simply deny it. What I will simply agree on is that social media is horrible when it’s used as a substitution for friendship & acts as a insecurity blanket.
 
I want to clearly state something though, not everyone who uses social media is apart of this theory; additionally, social media has brought great things to the world despite the negativity it’s brought.

I end this report with one question to settle in your mind…

Would you consider that this essay applies to you?

Spend some time thinking about your social media use! There is apps that can track how much you use them! ;)