Social media has completely changed the way the world has operated over the years, for better and for worse. While it has had the ability to bring people together it has also drug people apart.
Social media is used by most of the world, with over 3.1 billion users. This makes it super connective which allows us to keep contact with friends and family; while also letting us connect with new people around the world. This connection helps people spread news faster, connect for events and world issues, and get educated 1st hand about other people’s cultures. But the same mechanisms that make all that possible also allows for people to share fake news, while connecting and giving people that share violent tendencies, and dangerous, hateful ideologies a wider audience around the world.
Social media is one the most addictive things in the world, with humans releasing the same chemicals using social media such as Facebook and twitter, as they do when using addictive drugs like heroin. This makes many people strive for acceptance, and validation on social media. While the average person uses social media about two hours a day, there are those who spend up to 9 hours or more a day on social media who have an addiction. With those that spend more than 5 hours a day on their phone being 2x as likely to exhibit depressive behavior.
Due to the addictive nature of social media, there are many who get absorbed into it and will start to neglect other parts of their lives. Causing them to become distant from their friends and family, and preventing them from getting enough physical activity, or eating a proper diet. Addictive social media behavior is also strongly related to narcissistic personality traits and low self-esteem, with young, single females being most strongly associated with displaying addictive social media behavior.
Social media allows us too see highlights of other people’s lives and compare them to our own, this can make many peoples lives seem droll or boring in comparison, often not showing the struggle that others may be going through. This makes people idealize other people’s lives while feeling depressed about their own. However, it can also help people find ways to better themselves and connect with role models that can help them with their lives.
But there is a certain cruelty in social media, with over 34 percent of people reporting being cyberbullied at sometime in their life, and 87 percent of young people reporting seeing cyber bullying. With 64 percent of those that have been cyberbullied, saying it has affected their ability to learn and feel safe at school. Studies have shown that bullying has been linked to causing depressive and violent traits, with those that have been cyberbullied often developing symptoms of depression, social anxiety, body dysmorphia, and other mental issues; which sometimes cause them harm to themselves or others.
When it comes to relationships, social media can have both positive and negative effects. Many people often stalk their significant other and become jealous of one’s online friends, or ex’s. With people often comparing their relationships to how others portray their relationship online. Social networks have has also made it significantly easier for people to cheat on their significant others, with networks specifically designed to do so. Social media though has also been used to create new relationships, with an estimated 39% of new relationships starting online. With studies showing that relationships that start online and lead to marriage often having a lower divorce rate compared to those who met in person. Often when relationships do end social media has some form of impact with 30% of divorces involving Facebook in some sort of way.
Use of social media has also been known to cause dangerous distractions, with 90% of drivers admitting to using social media, and 26% of car accidents involving cellular devices. So, while social media is a powerful tool to connect people together, it can also be quite dangerous, to not just the individual, but to society if used inappropriately.