‘Social media are interactive technologies that allow the creation or sharing/exchange of information, ideas, career interests, and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.’ (Wikipedia)
The effects of social media are far-reaching with over 100 million registered users. It has its advantages as it helps us to connect with like-minded people and enables us develop our full potential. Non-profit organisations are able to garner funds for good causes. It’s a gateway to culture, tips on health and the tenets of our faith. However, it has many pitfalls we need to guard against.
Social media is deliberately addictive as it is a control tool used by companies to push their products. The more time spent online, the more do social media companies earn. They have the rights to personal data which can be packaged and sold through the expertise of attention engineers, enabling companies insidiously target us in order to sell their products. It is good to know that the social media, at times is an alternate, fake reality. Our brains are being rewired. Social media is ripping the social fabric and we are not that close to our families anymore.
We start having fragmented attention spans during our waking hours as we keep checking out for WhatsApp and Facebook messages. We cannot concentrate. It is pertinent to note that the younger generation is targeted with make belief. Dopamine released has a 400% spike when we get a ‘Like’, akin to cocaine. But is a ‘Like’ really so important that it takes precedence over interaction with friends and family? Social media is surreptitiously tapping human insecurity and we think “What do others think of me?”; the others generally being our peer group. We are crestfallen when we do not get that approval or ‘Like’.
One major drawback of social media is that there is no legal age for using it. Excessive use is affecting the mental health of young people who may not be able to realize that they are being manipulated.