The development of social media in the last ten years has been incredible. Parents for years have employed the common phrase, “when I was younger there was no such thing as (insert modern day advancement)” to show their children how different their upbringing was. Now, this saying has a completely new meaning with the rapid invention of social media. Past generations did not even have mobile phones let alone mobile phones with access to inventions such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the other social media platforms that exist today. Connectivity has increased at the local, national and global level because of social media and this is an invaluable asset the world has gained. Personally I have been lucky to grow up with this sort of technology that allows for rapid information and spread of news but there have, however, been multiple downsides to the pervasiveness of social media today.
While being able to keep up with news and personal relationships through social media has been highly advantageous, there has also been a dangerous trend of superficiality growing because of these new platforms. One harmful trend that is especially relevant for our age group is the need to depict one’s life in a constantly positive manner on social media. With the constant presence of new apps like Snapchat, every moment is an opportunity to share with your social media community. Every day is not perfect but scrolling through someone’s smiling Instagram photos and joke-ridden Tweets would never be able to tell you that. It is easy and pleasant to post when things are going right but much more difficult and personal to do so when things are not. Nowadays there is a huge disparity between what is portrayed on social media and what actually happens in real life. Personally, in the past I have found myself feeling the need to validate my life’s happiness through social media because of this groupthink phenomenon. The more people posted on their social media accounts, the more I felt the need to post as well. This led to a pernicious cycle of behavior that many people including myself engaged in.
Because of this ever presence of social media, there have also been studies that show the negative mental health effects associated with this type of behavior. This is especially true for teenagers who are going through a very emotionally formative stage of their life. Looking at a study done by the University of Pennsylvania, it is possible for already socially isolated people to develop more problems with psychological disorders such as anxiety or depression because of social media. Conversely, social media could have positive side effects if the individual already had positive self-awareness and self-esteem.
One of the most important takeaways I’ve gotten out of using social media the past couple years is the need for moderation. I have tried to balance the amount of social media I use by deleting my Snapchat and Twitter apps while maintaining an active presence on Instagram and Facebook. One of the most unintended results I’ve gotten from deleting these apps is how I am now forced to interact more with the people I care about through actual conversation rather than an impersonal selfie that was mass sent to a group of people. Disconnecting from only a couple forms of social media has allowed me to have more meaningful conversation with the people I care about most.
When used effectively, social media truly is a phenomenon that can be beneficial for social, personal, and professional purposes. Recently launched platforms such as LinkedIn have been extremely beneficial in the professional world of connectivity but even LinkedIn is vulnerable to the effects of over sharing and comparing one’s accomplishments to another’s. These are a few of my thoughts on personal use of social media and now I can’t wait to learn more and investigate how social media has affected business!