Social media’s effect on you

Whilst recently flicking through some relatively old magazines, I rediscovered an article in The Daily Telegraph Magazine by Lucy Mangan that made me muse over her ideas. Usually I skim-read this particular publication in a rather bemused state, taking as little interest as I can in Oxford Street’s £3000 necklaces, ‘DIY’ tafelspitz with apricot and mustard sauce and adverts for Caribbean cruises; however, this two-page spread entitled “ Has reliance on social media made you a mean person?” caught my attention.

Mangan relates today’s modern age of internet anonymity to Plato’s Legend of the Ring of Gyges, in which a person, if offered a ring that would grant invisibility when worn, would choose to be immoral, reckless and ‘evil’ if they knew they couldn’t be caught. The obvious response to this scenario is that, yes, of course someone would choose to wear the ring in order to hide their identity from the backlash of criticism they would undoubtedly face if they behaved this way. Yet in relation to the anonymity of social media, it is worth noting that often those who publish the type of comments or replies that Mangan considers ‘too judgmental’ choose not to be anonymous at all, because they are aware that their critiques have a purpose and will evidently instigate change or spark debate regarding the subject. She is aware of this fact herself, as she complains that it is in fact ‘trolls’ who have “posted anonymous scathing reviews of […] rivals’ work”. Surely if you knew that those who are anonymous are ‘trolls’ who take pleasure in agitating regular social media users, you would simply choose to ignore them?

Moreover, the anonymous options that most webpages offer nowadays are, as previously stated, optional. You are not manipulated into being a ‘mean person’ as the title suggests. It is you who chooses to post harsh, unnecessary comments, regardless of being nameless. Simply put, that is called criticism; unfortunately these criticisms can often be disguised as and even read as attacks on the people who choose to make their views public. It is important, however, to really read into what these comments are trying to convey, instead of jumping to conclusions and taking to heart what the critics say. People will always have a comment to make, in the same way as I am doing now, and you either have to accept criticism graciously or be mature and overlook those who are genuinely ‘internet trolls’. In all honesty, the author of this piece comes across as a child having a tantrum — and I am happy to put my name to that criticism. In the end, even without social media, the population’s opinions will always be heard as it is virtually impossible to tame the masses.

The implication of the whole article is that this generation is somehow ‘below’ the generations before us simply because we have more technologically advanced lives. I genuinely don’t see why we aren’t allowed to enjoy the brilliant new inventions of our lifetimes and cocoon ourselves in their conveniences. Was it wrong for the generation who witnessed the invention of the light bulb to revel in the convenience of a light switch and a brightened life? Was it wrong for the generation who witnessed the creation of the television to be fascinated by a whole new world of entertainment? Of course not; and you shouldn’t be made out to be a “mean person” for enjoying an aspect of life that is available to you. So my message is to immerse yourself in statuses, selfies and Snapchats. The annoyance of the older generation can arguably come down to the fact we can now ask Google for the answers instead of them anyway.

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