Whether you love it or loathe it social media is here to stay. It has become part of our day to day lives and is used not only in our personal lives but also in many of our business lives. There are very few people who don’t have some kind of social media presence especially with the range and choice of social media platforms continuously growing.
My first interaction with social media was Bebo. In hindsight, it seems like it was fairly innocent compared to what social media profiles have become in the last few years. I joined Facebook in my second year of college and was about 20 years old. Today, I still have my Facebook profile, as well as a Twitter account, LinkedIn and an instagram account. I will admit I also go through bouts of binging on the wonderful world of Pinterest. Snapchat is not my friend and despite two attempts of downloading and deleting it I have made my peace that this one is simply not for me.
Social media does of course have benefits. It’s a fantastic way for businesses to reach potential new customers, charities to raise awareness of events and groups of people to arrange meet ups and so on. However, social media is also a very toxic environment. Strangely addictive, social media enables us to keep up to date with family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances lives. It all seems ideal but it can become quite negative when we begin to compare our own lives with that of those who fill our news feeds. Similar to other forms of media, social media can be used to frame a story, promote certain thinking or fuel a perception of a particular lifestyle. It empowers the user to portray their life exactly as they want to be seen. We see the glamorous nights out, the exotic holidays, the job promotions, the weddings and so on. It’s only natural that when we see people doing all this that we can soon feel inferior or insecure in our own achievements. It can impact significantly on our self esteem and confidence. At this point it becomes necessary to take a step back and realise that people choose exactly what information they post, and more importantly, that which they don’t.
I feel very grateful that for the most part I have grown up in a social media free world. The teenagers of today not only have usual adolescent issues to manage but also that of an online world which makes them increasingly vulnerable and susceptible to intimidation, bullying and other dangers.Celebrity culture adds another dimension to the social media conundrum. Celebrities have always been influential but we now see them not only in traditional media but through most social media channels, apps and online sources. Everywhere people turn there is more and more reminders of what is expected of us aesthetically and in our lives in general. Information and images are filtered to us. This can be difficult for adults but even more so for teenagers, who can be far more impressionable. There is all this to deal with and that’s before we even think about the horrific bullying which takes place through social media. Trolls hide behind their screens tormenting others, this was virtually unheard of before social media became such a dominant presence in society.
Social media is aimed at bringing people together, connecting us with those we may have lost touch with and to make it easier to maintain contact with those we are close with. Does it do all this? Yes. Unfortunately, it also does much more. The backlash of social media can be intense and affect people in may different ways. It seems we all now only go to events, holidays or concerts to take the pictures to share on social media to see how many likes we get. You would have to wonder how we ever managed with disposable cameras, handing them into the chemist and not to mention not having a filter built in to enhance a not so perfect snap. Where it with all end is difficult to say but I think we could all do with a digital detox every now and then, just to remind us of life pre social media and the pressure that it brings.