Social Media Is A Negative Influence In Our Society
Negative Influence of Social Media
Social networks have identified trends in the development of the Internet towards integration, combining events within a single, multi-user web platform. These platforms provide the opportunity for the users to communicate with friends, read news, share their tastes with other participants, take part in discussions, unite in interests, and create communities. All these options are concentrated on one site. Without doubt, the social networks were one of the greatest technological achievements in the past few decades with huge potential. It is impossible to say that social networks result in a continuous harm. This miracle of the Internet technology can bring benefit and improvement to everyday routine with the correct, disciplined approach. Nevertheless, there is always a chance that operating in social networks will have destructive consequences on psyche, emotional well-being and habits of users. Social media has severe adverse effects on the society due to several reasons.
Social networks have proven to be very influential in many aspects of life. One of the most obvious aspects is purchasing decisions. Since most profits of social networks are acquired through advertisements, the users of these social networks find their choices significantly influenced and changed by these ads. Apart from advertising on the Internet, different brands try to spread their influence adding their accounts to different social networks. For example, the biggest brand Facebook profile in the United States belongs to Walmart with more than 33.5 million subscribers (Socialbakers). Social media still accounts for a large share of advertisements, whether intentional or not. People, who frequently use social networks, can be influenced both consciously and unconsciously by them. Seeing luxurious life of certain celebrities, bloggers, and other seemingly successful people leads to a logical assumption that the products and brands those people use are a key to the similarly successful life. When digital users are asked how they make buying decisions, they respond that most useful information can be derived from comments, reviews, and feedback on social media. Essentially, information provided by other customers can be very useful, but the negative influence of social media in such case is that sometimes users purchase items they do not need. This happens because social media exposes users to a variety of different items, trends, and fashion. Hence, the users develop new desires and needs. Social media purposefully create stories by the means of social media so as to encourage people to purchase more (Socialbakers). Many companies have already turned to branding and advertising on social media, which is alarming for social media users. Now their seemingly innocent time-spending is under marketing attack of influential companies. The feeling of bitterness and jealousy that social media icons develop in users leads to uncontrollable consumerism and irrational purchasing behavior. Therefore, social media has several ways of influencing users behavior; especially adversely it impacts users purchasing decisions.
Cruelty and Morals
Although media influence can be very deliberate, such as described above impact on purchasing decisions, other media influences can be much less direct. For instance, social media has been accused in increasing sexualization of the society, which gives a totally different perspective on what a normal and appropriate behavior is. Bloggers and news reporters rush into delivering information, not supported by sufficient sources, which often appears inaccurate (Solove 59). This indirect influence is often hard to pin down; nevertheless, it can be even more harmful. Social media gives people a platform to share different content and receive comments from people all over the world. Typically, social media has very specific privacy policies, and that is why victims of rapes, suicides, and murders usually are not identified, which deprives users of the compassion for these nameless people, and, therefore, for the profiles users see on social media (Solove 59). This means that behind profiles stand real people, yet it is not perceived this way. This is why, many posts and comments tend to be very rude and cruel. Moreover, people who spend a lot of time on social media tend to become more violent in real life, because it does not feel as real anymore, and neither do the consequences. The control of social media is very limited and users get the feeling, that they can post anything, including photos displaying drug-taking, alcohol consumption, and even sexual photos. According to some data, around 81% of bloggers use other names to identify themselves on social media, in which case it is not exactly real people, who post this content, which nevertheless influences adversely the behavior in real world (Solove 59). The excitement from posting such content raises the feeling of acceptability of such behavior of both users, who post and view that. This change in boundaries of what is acceptable leads to many users being confused between what is right and wrong. Not realizing the consequences of their actions and words, many users undermine their own morals and those of the others. Thus, social media has some indirect influences, especially on the cruelty of its users and blurring the line between what is appropriate and what is not.
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Following the topic of the indirect influences of social media, it is important to understand how vulnerable the users of the social media are. Despite many complaints on the government that gathers so much personal data, that many feel insecure, active users of the social media tend to provide the rest of the users with much more personal details than they would ever need (Evans 530). Most social networks give users an option to fill in their profile details, so that other users can see it, and in this way find people with similar interests. Social media discloses information about human tastes, thoughts, social status, and private life. This leads to the situation that all of the users personal information is exposed to other user, so that they can compare and judge. Social media gives us a sense of unity, since users can enjoy the company of people, even being on their own. Nevertheless, many people have noticed how social media on the contrary gives a sense of alienation. Jules Evans has described alienation as a process of selling oneself into slavery (translation from Greek alienus) (530). Often, instead of achieving a feeling of belonging, users acquire insecurities, becoming addicted to social recognition (likes and followers). Pursuing to establish a status on certain social media, people tend to lose the sense of their own self and instead follow the general trend. This may lead to even greater feeling of loneliness, since other users may not share their tastes and not support ones preferences. What is worse, it may lead to user becoming anxious of what one is posting on social media, whereas not engaging in the social media tends to be disapproved by others (Evans 530). Social networks help to idealize what really is not worth paying special attention to. Thus, virtual life distorts the notion of real values. Users are forced to constantly compare themselves with other people and think less about their own lives. In a person, the individuality is uprooted, thereby, depicting the negative impact of social networks on human life. Therefore, social media results in developing the sense of vulnerability and self-conscious of its users, which potentially may lead to even more serious consequences.
Social media is also tightly linked to alcohol use. Social media promotes binge drinking as a method to have a more interesting life. Russell Clayton, a graduate student at the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri, found that anxiety and alcohol use significantly affect emotional ties in Facebook. The study by Clayton et al. has examined more than 225 freshmen from colleges about the level of their loneliness, anxiety, and alcohol consumption for predicting emotional connections on Facebook (Clayton et al. 687). They found that students, with higher levels of anxiety, and also abusing alcohol, were more emotionally associated with the social network. Clayton et al. have concluded that lonely and anxious students use Facebook to develop any emotional connections with others (687). According to Clayton et al., people who are anxious, most likely, want to meet and communicate with people on the Internet, preferring virtual communication over the real (687). As a result, according to Socialbakers database, the most popular alcohol brand profile, which is Heineken, has around 6,295,283 followers, and the most popular profile related to education has only 5,140,376 followers. In addition, he notes, when people have already developed some emotional connection to Facebook and they look through photos and statuses of their Facebook friends who also consume alcohol, they consider their actions as correct and motivated that helps them become the part of the online society, which depicts the same behavior. Clayton et al. say that since alcohol consumption is usually seen as something normative or socially acceptable among students, an increased level of alcohol use can lead to raised emotional connection to Facebook (687). This means that social media pictures alcohol as a great way to spend time and a good addition to any party. It impacts users behavior significantly. Drinking in social media is promoted both deliberately by companies, who produce alcohol, and users, who unconsciously post content. Thus, social media has a significant influence on users drinking habits, promoting drinking itself, and encouraging heavier drinking among already existing drinkers.
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Another issue concerning the use of social media lies within cognitive complications. Social media overwhelm users with the information flow. Users brains get addicted to clicking and switching pages, since this is the only way of perceiving information introduced on the screen. Social media does not just provide people with entertainment and information to learn from, it also introduces convenience and availability of its resources. According to the recent study, users, who use Facebook more frequently, have lower academic performance (Kuss and Griffits 3537). Speed and availability are important prerequisites for the formation of any dependence. Users get used to the easiness of receiving information. Dependence on pastime in social networks leads to several problems, including reduction of concentration. This is a side effect generated by the philosophy of information integration: starting with operating of only one web interface and then adding various functions, including communication, music listening, watching videos, discussing news and meetings, the user attempts to engage in everything at once and perform several processes simultaneously. The users note that it becomes more difficult to focus attention on one issue or activity for a sufficient amount of time. Out of 26% of users, who admitted that social media influenced their academic performance, 74% defined it as negative (Kuss and Griffits 3537). Therefore, in this manner social media causes lower academic performance, which is a result of squandering time and loss of attention.
Social media has also proven to have an adverse effect on emotional state of its users. Many studies have indicated the negative consequences from the frequent usage of social networks. Apparently, the nature of the feedback received from other users changes self-esteem and often results in dependency of a user on the feedback from its peers on any action or decision taken. Five most popular Internet resources, such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube and Twitter are all focused on users receiving feedback through likes and comments. The emotional state is affected most by Instagram and Facebook, which currently have 2.7 billion registered followers (Socialbakers). The positive effect can be felt only by YouTube, due to the insignificant nature of likes on the operation of the user and since most users do not post as much content on this social network. Other social networks tend to set unreal standards for success, travels and relationship, which results in users anxiety and depression. Therefore, social media also has significant adverse influence on emotional well-being of users.
To conclude, social networks can nevertheless be a source of enhancement for a career. Virtual dating can facilitate job search, especially for people who have some status and expertise in their professional field. It is known that the human resource managers of many companies often check profiles of candidates for vacancies, so an interesting and correct page on Facebook can be a big plus. People actively use the networks to work and every year they do it more successfully. Many people change their work through social networks, companies find employees, and some groups of specialists have completely moved their professional activities there. Nevertheless, social media has demonstrated to affect many aspects of life and influence human behavior and habits. Social media promotes standards unachievable for most of the people and, thus, should be viewed with according attitude. Therefore, one should carefully choose the content he or she views through social media, select information to disclose, and make sure that no matter what, social media brings only entertainment and improvement to life, increases efficiency, rather than causes depression and anxieties.