Opinion Piece: Social Media

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Social media has proven itself to be one of the things people seem to not be able to live without.

It offers so much, it offers connection between opposite sides of the world, it allows you to find people when you haven’t seen them or heard of them in years.

It allows you to display your life and memories as if you were preparing to write a movie.

With all of these advantages, why would someone question it?

Cambridge Analytica and the CEO of Facebook showed us why we should be wary, and why we should question this entity that not everyone com completely understands.

Information that trusting users privately stored on Facebook was revealed, and turned over to people that could gain from it. This scandal even included information on people who didn’t have Facebook, who didn’t agree to the terms and conditions.

Cambridge Analytica, who coincidentally assisted in data collection for the Trump administration during the election campaign, used Facebook as a way to analyse people through better understanding the people they were trying to win over.

The issue with all of this is the vulnerability of social media, that for the most part people ignore, including me.

This is part of the reason I find it frustrating when people are sharing extremely intimate parts of their lives on social media sites, you don’t know who can see it. These sites do have privacy practises and ways in which to only allow people you want to see your information. This scandal put all of this into disrepute, and for good reason.

I think that it’s essential to understand who can see your information, and to seriously think about the intimate details that are sprawled over the web.

This narcissistic sense of importance that these social media sites inhibit, stops me from being a consistent user of social media. Some users are documenting every single aspect of their lives on online sites, it’s dangerous. There are some cases of being able to know more about these ‘friends’ lives on Facebook than we know about our own friends. This is something the ‘millennials’ are being blamed for and to be honest, something we have to own.

Another aspect about this constant uploading of photos and status’, is that people rely on the feeling they get when likes and comments come through on their posts. They rely on this need to receive likes and attention in order to, which is genuinely unhealthy.

Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist and professor of psychology, states that feelings of not being satisfied when a post doesn’t get the attention the profile wanted it to, “it makes us doubt ourselves.”

What is understandable is the fact that people enjoy the feeling of receiving a like. Studies have shown that social media can affect the brain the same way that a hug does. The rush of happiness and contentment is dopamine, the “reward molecule”.

Mauricio Delgado, associate professor of psychology at Rutgers University states,  

“When one receives like, shares and retweets, it’s a positive reinforcer of using social media”  

Source: Hamazasp

He continues,

“Often, if you have the earliest predictor of a reward- a sign of a social media alert, like your phone buzzing, you get a rush of dopamine from that condition stimulus.”

These statements perhaps excuse some user’s addiction to uploading photos constantly and sharing everything about their lives.

This I believe is understandable, but there had to have been some steps before happiness and moods were dependant on likes and shares.  

This works much the same for the opposing argument.

When users do post but don’t receive a like, share or notification, it can give off feelings of being depressed. When no notifications are received, negative come about.

This is why I find it difficult to rely on these websites for happiness and serotonin. As much as it may provide some people with these things, there are a whole other group of people that are being deprived of this.

Comparison on social media is a difficult aspect to deal with. Someone will always appear to be a little bit further ahead, a little bit more organised, or having a little bit more fun. Scrolling through social media can really impact on your mood, it can make you question things or make you feel quite behind. I usually find myself having a look at my friends overseas or landing some really big internship, it really makes me question why I’m not doing the same. This sometimes motivates me, but like a lot of us I feel like it just makes me feel lost.

The interesting thing about this though, is that often people make it look like everything is in check, when in fact it really isn’t. This is why comparing another person’s life on social media to your own is unrealistic, and in most cases not true. All the people out there that scroll and people are doing more interesting things, this is your justification!

I believe social media acts as a really fantastic opportunity, despite the downfalls.

Social media allows you to keep in constant contact with people half way across the world. I mean it’s possible to send an instant message to Tanzania (furthest place I could think of).

Social media is fantastic for assistance. Just the other day for example my car broke down, I put a status up on Facebook asking for help. Within 10 minutes of my status, my friends, who’s mobile number I don’t have came and jump started my car. Without social media, he would have never known that my car broke down.

To be totally honest I would love to be the person to completely remove myself from social media, and live as if it didn’t exist. But unfortunately for me it does. You can have your Snapchat and Instagram, but Facebook is too widely used. How am I meant to know when my mate’s birthday is?

 

 

 

 

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