How Social is Social Media?

Social media may be the addiction of the nation but is it as bad as it seems?   We coordinate with our friends, leave a poetic status on Snapchat telling our story of self discovery and go on the journey of not using our phones for a whole day! Until, we decide that we don’t use our phones as much as some people, and give up.

We live in an era in which technology surrounds us constantly and are so heavily reliant on it, that having a week away from our phones has become a challenge. Whilst, the age of mobile phones, social media and the internet can be positive, it also could be subtracting key elements of socialising from our lives leaving us with next to no social skills, unless you are an avatar on a screen.

The addiction with likes that runs rampant in the minds of children has resulted in a divided society. Those who have a phone at three;  those who don’t. Having such an early exposure to social media and the internet has resulted in lots of children who chase validation from likes, follows and shares and their value is defined by these things. Most of the time however, their videos aren’t going to be viewed by thousands and if they are particularly young that wouldn’t be a positive thing. By not having the validation they deserve, they could develop a low self esteem which is only fed by the use of social media.

Social media doesn’t just impact young people. With social media at our beck and call, the social skills of the planet are rapidly deteriorating. According to the Office for National Statistics, the percentage of adults who make video or voice calls over the internet has more than trebled thus we can see how face-to-face interactions are vanishing. But why is this bad? We are so used to talking through a phone that in real life we’re lost without them, leading to “phubbing” (phone snubbing). Rather than having conversations with people, we will sit on our phones, scrolling through Pinterest or checking an email that you’ve checked a thousand times just to avoid having a conversation in the non-digital world.

The stereotypical values of Britain will fade from “being overly polite” to ignoring everything and everyone for our technological friends sitting eagerly in our pockets. As well as the erasure of our British identity, social media also negatively influences mental health and body image. Apps like Instagram allow us to show the world our creativity, however they’ve simultaneously become a platform for shaming people about their weight, with trending pages on how to slim down with extreme and unhealthy diets. These pages encourage mind-sets that are unhealthy for anyone, but these trends are especially prevalent amongst young adults, influencing them to attempt to pursue these diets and negatively impacting their health. In addition, other apps like Photoshop can also contribute to this issue by portraying people in an idealistic way that no one could achieve but the world is convinced. However, Photoshop is being dismantled with celebrities opening up about their usage.

On the other hand, it is important that we don’t brand social media as the enemy of society. It has many benefits and has significantly improved the lives of many people due to its ability to create a greater interconnectedness around the globe. This enables people to make friends from any country and creates internet communities, enriching the lives of those who take part by developing relationships with people with common interests. Furthermore, this interconnectedness has enabled long distance relationships to be more successful. This doesn’t just impact romantic relationships but can also help to maintain relationships between families when their children go to university or leave home. Therefore social media does have benefits for people, it allows us to make relationships last longer and also help us find a community we fit in with.

Technology surrounds us daily, it can’t be a black and white debate but more restrictions may need to be put in place to ensure the safety of young children. Social media may be the addiction of the nation but is it as bad as it seems?

Article by Young Reporter Ruby Winter
First appeared in Grimsby Telegraph 10th March 2020