This semester I’ve been taking a course on Social Media, which is so 2018 of Stony Brook, and right up my alley as an aspiring blogger. (Before you start, yes I know, I haven’t posted in a while… but I’m working on something pretty exciting, so stay tuned!) I’m writing this post because (yea, you got me, it’s an assignment) I really want to share something things that I’ve learned, as well as, open a discussion on whether or not Social Media has positively or negatively impacted society. As a millennial and a 90’s baby, I can remember a time before the internet (shocking) but I also currently live in a world where my life is on my iPhone and I would practically die without wifi. I spend hours every day scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. Being connected to millions of people on a global scale is addicting! I essentially have the world at my fingertips. Things like viral videos, memes, and even the news become easily accessible and shareable within seconds. Being able to advocate for social or political rights, start a movement with a hashtag, post missing persons’ reports, etc. is all possible with the power of social media.
There are so many different advantages to having and utilizing a social media platform. Just think about the rise in social media influencers this year alone! There are literal careers skyrocketing from Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, even blog sites like WordPress! People are able to create their own brands, run businesses, and share things like art, novels, photography, etc. The internet allows for a mass outreach, so a single post can be seen across the world in a matter of seconds. This means that we as creators can impact our followers instantaneously! This is an amazing thing because we can share our experiences and help those in need, promote positive lifestyles, and educate in areas of our expertise or interests! But, this is also a big responsibility because younger generations tend to idolize their favorite people online and they imitate everything they see. Making sure that your content reflects your morals and is safe for the ingestion of younger viewers is so important, and it’s also a hard balance between being scripted and being authentic.
Some negative aspects of social media include cyberbullying, as I’m sure we have all encountered an internet troll or two. My only advice is that those comments don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and it’s crazy that little kids can be taught and subjected to such high levels of hate at such a young age. The only thing we can do is aim to be better role models for the next generation and to teach them that their entire world does not revolve around their cellphone or tablet.
Alongside this, the biggest take away that I have learned from class this semester is that social media in different countries (even our own) have reached all different kinds of levels of (for lack of a better word) insane. China has implemented a reward system for their citizens that basically ranks them based on their activities and peer ratings, and is a modern version of a communist society. Russia and other countries employ governmental positions in order to hack into social media accounts, create bots, and interact with users. This is known as the weaponization of social media, and it’s as terrifying as it sounds. Your whole life is at the click of a button. There have been political scandals regarding this infiltration of privacy (we all know regarding whom) and it just means that as a viewer or user, you need to be aware of the type of content you interact with. I always make sure to friend people I know or who are verified sources, I keep my social media accounts on private, I don’t share passwords or any other vital information. You need to stay guarded because you never know who’s watching! (Insert Big Brother Conspiracy Theory).
Now, taking all that I’ve learned this semester and the knowledge that I have now imparted to you… I would like to say that my life has been altered greatly and my social media usage will be limited. I do intend on being more cautious about the content that I do post online, however, I don’t see any harm with my current social media usage. I wouldn’t boycott it completely, but I am more conscious of my screen time. It’s really important to make sure that you don’t rely on social media to solve all your issues. It is a useful tool to find resources and to find a community and to get some great laughs. But it is not a substitute for going out there and living your own authentic lifestyle. Too many people hide behind a screen, get out there and breathe some fresh air without a device occasionally! There’s a lot of studies out there suggesting that social media has a negative impact on mental health, and as someone who has dealt with depression and anxiety, I can say from my perspective that social media never MADE me mentally unstable. I went through some difficult times and didn’t have the best coping methods, which lead to years of depression. However, social media is what you make of it. If a person is going through traumatic life events, social media can enable bad habits of isolation but it can also help to inspire those in need of some light. Correlation does not mean causation!
With all of this in mind, I’m leaving you all with some links to the resources given to me so that you may create your own opinion on the matter. I hope you enjoyed hearing from me! Be safe and have fun always.