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Negative Effects of Social Media on Society
As a social media platform, Facebook has been hailed as one of the revolutionary information and communications technologies ever to grace the world of communication. It has been viewed to have brought the world closer and created numerous connections between and amongst people all over the world. Its feature of supporting information sharing is seen to be a good platform through which people may share knowledge and learn from one another irrespective of where they may be in the world. Questions have however arisen about the negative effects of Facebook on human beings. It has been thought that it would be dangerous to only focus on the benefits of the social media platform while turning a blind eye on its potential detrimental effects. Does the use of Facebook affect one’s self-esteem? Does it alienate one from the rest of the world while creating an illusion of promoting socialization? Does it negatively affect one’s psychology? Contrary to its perceived benefits, Facebook negatively affects users, showing that social media is generally harmful.
The use of Facebook serves to further dent the self-esteem of people whose self-esteem is already low. While using the social media platform, a person with low self-esteem may develop a wrong perception that they face lower risk of awkward social situations because Facebook makes them connect with other people easily. Consequently, such people may continue disclosing their personal details on Facebook and do more harm to their self-esteem since “when people have a negative reaction to a post on Facebook, they seem to keep it to themselves,” as was found out in a research study at the University of Waterloo, where the researchers further pointed out that ““On Facebook, you don’t see most of the reactions”” (Williams 1). This finding is true in the sense that contrary to a user’s belief that how people react to their posts on Facebook reflects their personality, this is a wrong belief because people do not give their genuine reactions to Facebook posts as they would do on a face-to-face interaction. Users thus end up believing that their self-esteem is increasing while in real sense it is diminishing.
The addiction of the society to social media, as proven by Facebook use, causes people to develop anxiety and stress. When using Facebook for instance, one would wish to play by the rules of online etiquette and treat all their Facebook friends courteously. As a result, Facebook users develop anxiety as they feel “guilty about rejecting friend requests,” as was established by a study at Edinburgh Napier University, where it was further explained by the researchers that many users feel “pressure to come up with inventive status updates” (Williams 1). This finding is credible. When one cannot reject a friend request so as to avoid developing the feeling of guilt, the situation culminates into stress. It means they might accept some requests against their will. On the same note, a user may become overly anxious when they are not in a position to develop and post an inventive status update. They might view this as a failure on their part.
Facebook use also undermines moment-to-moment happiness of individuals. People access a lot of information while using Facebook, ranging from how others live their lives to the latest fashion trends in the market, thereby finding reasons to make them sad in the process. Consequently, the level of happiness of people decreases as they become more addicted since “the more they used Facebook, the worse they felt,” as was found out by a University of Michigan study, whereby one of the authors continued to explain that Facebook use “sets up social comparison — you maybe feel your life is not as full and rich as those people you see on Facebook” (Hu 1). There is absolute truth in this. When a Facebook user keeps tabs on the life of others, they may start developing the feeling that someone they know is doing better than them going by what that person posts on Facebook. In the process, they may start devaluing themselves and feel less satisfied because apparently, they are yet to make it to where that other person is in the social ladder.
In addition, Facebook has made it difficult for people to maintain their privacy. The idea of sharing as encouraged by the social networking site sends people into sharing even some of the most personal details of their lives. Normally, users are not keen to protect their privacy through the use of filters, including when they are sharing about their private lives. Once posted, a user’s personal details will indefinitely remain available to other users unless the user deletes them or deletes his/her social media account through which the details were posted (Jung 10). This is a serious problem given that every human deserves some level of privacy in their life.
Further, Facebook creates despair for people who like socializing in real life or put in other terms, through face-to-face interactions. As one continues to use social media, they continue noting the differences between face-to-face interactions and social media interactions. As a result, one develops an obsession of monitoring these differences and might become “more sensitized about what’s happening on Facebook and comparing that to your own life,” as the University of Michigan study found out, where it was further established that “when you are engaging in social interactions a lot, you’re more aware of what others are doing” (Hu 1). This is a true observation. When a user compares the normal direct face-to-face interactions with that on Facebook, they might feel that they are not interacting in the right manner in real life. They might end up treating as superior the interaction on Facebook. This might throw them into a feeling of despair because they would really want to enhance their face-to-face interactions to reach the level of that of Facebook but that is unfortunately impossible.
The discussion reveals that Facebooking and social media use in general is not all beneficial as people would think. If Facebook brings people together, would one then continue getting connected to more people on Facebook at the expense of their happiness? Doesn’t it sound scary that Facebook indeed undermines self-esteem? There is thus a definite need to make a change. People need to change from more Facebooking and develop the habit of less Facebooking and use of other social media. This would ensure that one maintains high self-esteem or works to improve their self-esteem and does not develop unnecessary stress and anxiety while at the same time being in a position to interact. It is noteworthy to imagine what the world would become if everybody became a social media addict given the implications discussed above.
Hu, Elise. “Facebook makes us sadder and less satisfied, study finds.” NPR.Org, 2013, http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2013/08/19/213568763/researchers-facebook-makes-us-sadder-and-less-satisfied.
Jung, Brian. “The negative effect of social media on society and individuals”. Demand Media, n.d., https://rampages.us/cjrajendran/wp-content/uploads/sites/9355/2015/12/Media.pdf.
Williams, Ray. “How Facebook can amplify low self-esteem/narcissism/anxiety.” Psychology Today, 2014, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201405/how-facebook-can-amplify-low-self-esteemnarcissismanxiety.