“Inflammable” and “flammable” mean the same thing, even though the words are structured grammatically as antonyms, or opposites.
Similarly, “social” media is sometimes just the opposite of its own name, too. In fact, its effect is often more akin to antisocial media!
Seriously… who really has 4,697 “friends” for no reason, most of whom one has never actually met?
Or is the real “reason” on social media to compile a huge number of “friends” to impress other “friends?”
An increasing number are questioning the effects of spending excessive amounts on social networking websites (and cellphone texting too, for that matter) and how tech overuse is stunting real life social development and interaction. And it’s not just young people who are addicted!
While social media imparts a feeling of acceptance, it tends to distance people from the perceived stress of face to face, real life conversation.
Online, people can connect with hundreds of “friends” without having to leave their home, open their mouths, or barely lift a finger (almost)… all you have to do is tap or swipe it!
Real life conversations are, after all, far more perilous than those in the cyber world. They occur in real time, with no opportunity to think up clever or witty responses, and they require a sensitivity to voice tone and body language… and you can’t fake it in real life.
That’s part of the problem with divorcing oneself from reality, as people online tend to present a falsified image of their “world”. By forcing comparisons to others’ artificially distorted presentations, feelings of insecurity (coupled with a sense of entitlement) can leave you feeling more depressed after social media overexposure.
One recent study, in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that heavy social media usage may be linked to violent and aggressive behaviour. Among 9,000+ teenagers studied, 25 percent of males and 13 percent of females were internet addicts. And among these, 37 percent reported aggressive behaviour within the last year, compared to less than 23 percent for all teens, including withdrawal symptoms (irritability and moodiness) when not online, preoccupation with internet activities, and foregoing physical activities in favour of more time online.
These effects are starting, suspiciously, to sound exactly like classic drug addiction signs and symptoms…
And many are tempted, in this disconnected world of overconnectivity… to start trolling others. After all, when you’re not face to face, what consequences are there for bad behaviour, or outright cyberbullying?
Allowing yourself to be hooked on cyberspace can inflict the feeling of having no escape!
At the time of this writing, over 75 billion text messages are sent monthly in the U.S., with teens aged 12–17 sending the most, at an average of 2,272 texts monthly per teen… maybe not all those messages are really useful…?
Does texting/tweeting have some good uses? Sure it does!
Hardcore texters find it difficult to be “in the moment” with other people because they are constantly being summoned by someone else somewhere else… as a result, are tech overusers ever really existing in the present moment?
While digital interactions of the social media variety can be enjoyable (or not!), the ongoing experiences are generally devoid of cohesive narrative and long term significance.
Communication has changed over the modern age, both in nature (methods available) and intensity (information overload!). But underlying human nature has not really changed, in many ways.
The nature of change has just sped up.
So be careful; some addictions can hurt you slowly.
Dr Ling 🙂