There is a frontier for the debate regarding social media and its impact on society. Social media has quickly become one of the most powerful tools we have to engage with each other and the rest of the world. While some claim that it is the most important creation of our time, others would see it wiped out of sight. Both cases hold strong points for their arguments, so who do we listen to?
Social media has revolutionized communication, interaction, research and accessibility to the world. With social media platforms, we are able to connect to our loved ones from across the globe, we can purchase and receive products from a small business in a foreign country, we can conduct work and create jobs from our couches and we can research just about any topic we like. At our fingertips, social media enables activism, awareness-spreading, accessibility to art, opinions from members of society and history. Politicians, business’ and individuals can be held publicly accountable for their actions, and many unreported news stories come to the spotlight thanks to social media.
Fake news and misinformation; cyberbullying; data control; dopamine addiction and disconnection (from the real world) are all challenges we are facing when using social media. Studies have exposed correlations between social media and mental health issues. Large corporations utilize user data for profits and exploitation; fake news spreads among millions tampering in politics and social affairs; cyberbullies ruin lives and social media giants utilize dopamine systems to keep us glued to our screens.
Social interactions have been declining, and as a result we find ourselves interacting with our screens more than humans. This can cause mental health problems and create dependency on our phones for comfort, damaging our inherit social skills.
It’s difficult to ignore the downsides of social media, but do they justify ending access to these platforms? Social media is certainly a game-changer in how we interact with each other and societal systems, and – like most things – it boils down to our relationship with it. If we conduct our research without bias, utilize parental guidance education systems, use the platforms to spread positive news, unreported tragedies and raise awareness for those being oppressed, we can create a healthy and positive relationship with social media. Sure, the challenges are real and there is no one-answer-solution, but as a society, we dictate the meaning and relevance of social media. It is up to us to hold each other accountable – politicians, businesses, individuals and collective groups – and to use the platforms responsibly. And, let’s remember, with great power comes great responsibility.