What is the problem? Is there a problem with our usage of social media? Yes, and it’s impossible to give it such a succinct answer when the list of problems is extensive. The creators of different social media platforms such as Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Tik Tok, and so on never intended for social media to be as harmful as it has grown to become over the years. By watching the documentary-drama film “The Social Dilemma”, I got an understanding of how much social media has affected my life. I highly recommend that everyone watches this film, and I hope it changes something within you as it did me. As I continue my article, I will highlight some key takeaways from the film that impacted me the most.
We are lab rats. It is not a coincidence that your feed is filled with cat videos, because the people who work in the tech of these apps, engineer your feed to your liking. They know how much time you are in a pic, and they know your likes because of it. These apps are slot machines. We spend hours scrolling down to see what is new, and we click refresh to do it all over again. As we look at more ads, these people make more money. As we stare at different posts, they are using your psychology against you. “There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software” -Edward Tufte. Social media is a drug. This is an addiction that needs to be stopped.
Social media is supposed to be an art of expression, but it is so much more than that. Likes were made to spread positivity, but it has also turned into insecurity. Is the reason I don’t get likes is that I am ugly? Should I photoshop myself to get more likes? Am I not enough? These questions bombard the minds of the Gen-Z, because we are used to what is fake, and we are drawn to it. Famous people who deny that they photoshop themselves to “look better” are making their followers insecure, so they do the same because they want to look like them, and they think that is normal. People’s mental health has been severely affected by social media, and its negative effects keep rising. That is a problem. People are confused about what is real and what is fake.
Social media also exist as a “learning tool”, and as people keep reading about topics such as politics and current events, they feel they are learning, and what they don’t know is that the sometimes what they are reading aligns with their beliefs because as I said before, our feed is designed for our liking. This is how fake news comes to play. Fake news travels six times faster than real news, and an app such as Twitter is known to be a home for it. The people who invest most of their time on Twitter are most likely to keep watching videos and readings of these fake news to the point where they believe it. Tribalism is ruining us. If everyone is entitled to their facts, then what is true? It is not easy to change the mindset of someone, but we have to agree on what is true to navigate our problems.
“It is not about the tech being the existential threat, it's the technology's ability to bring out the worst in society, and the worst in society being the existential threat”. The people who have built these things have the ability and responsibility to change it for the better. I know it is not easy to change one’s lifestyle that is overpowered by social media. Good things come with time. I suggest we try to limit ourselves and try to once in a while live in the real world, and not just on the screen. I challenge you to stop using your phone as soon as you wake up and as you are falling asleep. You will feel different, a good type of difference. It's time to open our eyes, look into the real world, and make up for the lost time.