Excessive Use Of Social Media
The average person will spend approximately a total of 3,462,390 minutes (six years and eight months) of their lifetime on social media (“Average Time Spent Daily on Social Media”). When put like that, Americans are putting aside a large portion of their lives dedicated to social media usage. It is abundantly clear that as time goes on, a dramatically increasing number of people have begun to use social media. Not only are more people using social media, but they are also spending an increased amount of time scrolling through social media. Social media companies are able to attract more and more people due to their addictive qualities and noticeable attention-grabbers that hook social media users. Without a doubt, as more people use social media, there has to be lasting effects on society. The effects of the substantial increase of social media on American society are proving to be considerably notable. Social media usage has been linked to the development of mental health issues, the division of people in society, and the risk of harmful addiction.
The overuse of social media is an idea that is often overlooked, but a majority of American society tends to delve too deeply into social media. The abundance of social media in one’s life can negatively affect one’s mental health. Studies done by the Mayo Clinic staff say “A 2019 study of more than 6,500 12- to 15-year-olds in the U.S. found that those who spent more than three hours a day using social media might be at heightened risk for mental health problems” (Teens and Social Media Use: What’s the Impact?). These studies show that teenagers who use social media for more than three hours a day may be at higher risk for suffering from social media driven mental health problems. These young teenagers ages twelve to fifteen have very impulsive and impressionable minds which put them at risk for developing these mental health issues linked to the amount of time they spend delving into the black hole of social media. This scientific study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, a prestigious medical program, showed that young preteens and teenagers who spent more than three hours a day scrolling through social media platforms were more susceptible to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. The more time these impressionable minds spend on social media sites, the more prone these teenagers are to become anxious or depressed for a number of reasons. These teens see social media influencers who seem to have the perfect life, body, etc. and compare their own lives to these people causing a diminish in self-worth and self-image. These teenagers are choosing to spend this time on their phones rather than sleeping, which in turn can cause them to not only develop mental health issues, but diminish their physical health as well.
Social media has the powerful ability to sway political opinions and even alter the outcome of political elections. Research conducted states “a new study from Pew Research claims about one in five U.S. adults gets their political news primarily through social media. The study also finds that those who do get their political news primarily through social media tend to be less well-informed and more likely to be exposed to unproven claims that people who get their news from traditional sources” (“What is the Major Impact of Social Media”). This displays the idea that a majority of people get their political information from social media. These people who rely on social media sites for their information tend to be less informed about the information they are reading. These people tend to get their information from unreliable sources who may even be prone to spreading false information. Social media companies tend to write what sells and information that will captivate the attention of the largest quantity of people possible. Although this is not morally correct, by writing what will get the attention of more people, they make more money. Algorithms are used by processing one’s technological history, likes, dislikes, etc. The media is able to influence what one sees based on what will catch their attention. Jodi McDavid’s documentary exemplicates that politicians spread false information to get people to believe certain things. Fake news spreads six times faster than true news because “true news is boring” (The Social Dilemma). The idea that companies write unreliable articles purely because it will make more money or it is what politicians want people to believe plays into the true forces behind social media content and motives.
Social media companies’ motives are driven by monetary gain; ethics are sacrificed in order to become massive, money-making corporations. Social media companies have created irreplaceable algorithms focused on manipulation and deceit to control users which are damaging society as a whole. In an essay from the Journal of Democracy, a University of Toronto political science professor states “The attention-grabbing algorithms underlying social media … propel authoritarian practices that aim to sow confusion, ignorance, prejudice, and chaos, thereby facilitating manipulation and undermining accountability” (Ronald Deibert). Professor Deibert sheds a light on the idea of the hidden, damaging algorithms that undermine democracy and attempt to push the idea of authoritarianism. These algorithms are created with the intent of manipulating, dividing, and confusing social media users which, as an effect, creates havoc and divides in society. Social media creators and designers have created irreplaceable algorithms hidden in social media that focus on grabbing and holding the attention of users for extended periods of time. These algorithms challenge and undermine the role of democracy in society and press the idea of authoritarianism among its users. The algorithms also create distinct sides in society that destroy unity and harness unrest, chaos, and hatred in society causing society to self-deprecate.
The vast influence of social media brings major concern about the safety and well-being of society. Social media’s influence can be positive, yet detrimental to society. In Jodi McDavid’s documentary, there is a quote that states “Whether it is to be utopia or oblivion will be a touch-and-go relay race right up to the final moment” (The Social Dilemma 1:21:31). The future of society remains uncertain due to the detrimental effects of social media on American society. Without learning to balance the influence of social media in society, we will always walk a fine line between dystopia and utopia until it is too late and we, as society, have caused the demise of life as we know it. Currently, there are no regulations for social media companies when designing and obtaining their sites. Without regulations and rules holding these massive companies, such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, accountable for their actions, they will continue to run rampant. These regulations will allow these corporations to focus less on monetary gain with an addictive undertone and focus more on positive uses of technology.
Social media has the ability to produce positivity in American society such as the ability to connect with others, gain knowledge, promote creativity, and gain exposure to other cultures and customs; however, the question whether the benefits outweigh the negatives is a very pressing issue. Social media companies create apps with purposefully addictive content, manipulation, and deceit as their driving force. Overusing social media causes detrimental effects on young, impressionable minds causing them to develop anxiety and depression in their young teenage years. When put into perspective, it is hard to understand why one would continue to blindly support these platforms when the goal of these massive corporations is to make large profits off of your harmful addiction by manipulating you into delving into the never-ending, black hole of social media.