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Social media hinders mental growth. The young generation spends most of their time surfing the internet. The social sites attract viewers by presenting the content as per the demands and interests of the viewers. Some people even use interactive media as a platform to show off their power and status. More and more people have become dependent on the mass media for latest information, such as news and entertainment. The dependency has led to reduced brain capacity as well as limited memory among humans. Therefore, social media is disadvantageous.
Overuse of the internet hampers the mental health. The hours spent on apps like WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook causes mental health disorders. Labrague argues “in this regard, it has been found that time spent online, but not intensity of Facebook use, is significantly associated with depression and anxiety”. The disturbed mind expresses emotions such as extreme anger, nervousness and stress. Therefore, people find it difficulty in concentrating on study as well as work. Verduyn et.al states “furthermore, passive social media use, defined as browsing Facebook, scrawling through newsfeeds, looking at friends’ pictures and pages etc. leads to a decline in affective well- being over time”. The users develop a sense of jealousy as they come across the virtual profiles of unknown people. Hence, the creative potential of the brain decreases, resulting into disease prone minds. As people pay longer hours on watching videos or other attractive contents such as adult films, internet games, therefore, they do not get enough sleep which imbalances the normal biological rhythm.
Fake news influences election results. People tend to believe whatever content the media presents to the public. Hunt Alcott, who is associate professor of economics, New York University, New York City, New York presents the following statistical data:
Recent evidence shows that: 1) 62 percent of US adults get news on social media (Gottfried and Shearer 2016); 2) the most popular fake news stories were more widely shared on Facebook than the most popular mainstream news stories (Silverman 2016); 3) many people who see fake news stories report that they believe them (Silverman and Singer-Vine 2016); and 4) the most discussed fake news stories tended to favor Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.
The details of any event are available electronically without any fact checking or peer reviewing. Since there is no other cheaper and faster source of getting latest information, the random stories grab people’s attention. “Furthermore, we find that social media are a better indicator of political behaviour than traditional television media, such as CNN, which many scholars have argued is important because it shapes political reality via agenda setting”. The firms take money from political parties to present data in favour of the respective candidates. Radio and TV presenters, talk show hosts and those of other programs continuously keep urging their audiences to exercise their right to vote by showing up on the election date and voting for the candidate of the choice. “ Social media is image-heavy and … participants paid especially close attention to pictures of candidates and made judgements about candidates’ community engagement from the pictures they saw of candidates interacting with constituents at campaign events” (Robertson 361). Humans learn more from the sense of vision than any other sense. The repetition of same content makes people believe it is true. Thus, the constant featuring of the pre-election moments keeps the public on alert about an imminent election.
Cyberspace is responsible for the misconduct among people. Some individuals indulge in criminal activity such as cyberbullying. “The Internet is hardly the medium with the highest density of anonymous or offensive communications”. There is some sort of craze among the adolescents to create accounts on Facebook or Instagram since it is free of cost and nobody knows the true identity of a user since some fake profiles do exist on every social platform. Hence, vulgar and abusive language used by unidentifiable consumers has become a great threat. “Offending speakers find it easy to communicate anonymously and thus to avoid any direct defamation or other legal claims”. Using any social app does not require any sort of government approved identity to get signed in, therefore, there is no possibility of any legal action that could be taken against the cyber criminals. People start hacking others’ accounts to get access into their personal information and they do so without any fear due to lack of sufficient proof against them accompanied by lack of legal punishments.
Online interaction reduces self-esteem. The folks prefer virtual communication rather than face-to-face communication through mass media sites. When a person compares oneself with others, it results into negative feelings towards the self. “Critically, as expected, frequency of Facebook use was negatively correlated with self-esteem, where participants with more exposure to Facebook tended to evaluate themselves more poorly”. People exaggerate their identities to gain more popularity and followers which eventually hides their real selves. The influential characteristics such as good educational qualifications, white collar jobs are utilised as part of profile by users to create a virtual world of contentment. Moreover, some individuals start feeling less confident coming across such information. “Upward comparisons on Facebook also predicted lower self-esteem”. People start to evaluate themselves lower as compared to other people in terms of money, status, personality and so on. The role models in every field, from business tycoons to entertainment industry present themselves as perfect in all ways which leads to decline in public’s satisfaction with present possessions and increases the feelings of inferiority.
The digital technology is a setback for literature. Online sources have become the tool to access any kind of data required. “Briefly, the ultraminimalism of tweets and Facebook comments may be interpreted as potentially harmful as they develop a habitude of producing and receiving short messages”. Reading long textbooks seems to look uninteresting and boring. The shortened and easily understood text available in the form of electronic books or articles found in databases has become a part of daily routine. Consequently, the youngsters are devoid of the academic writing skills and techniques. “Social media killed the novel”. In the early 1900s, the written materials, for instance, scripts, books, novels were the major source for knowledge and information among the general public. But, the introduction of radios, TV, news channels along with the new media has withdrawn the interests of the youth from the age old practices of reading and writing. Moreover, the ability to critically analyse and think has diminished.
Mass media harms cognitive ability. The latest trends undergo a change just overnight, however, people still manage to catch up with it. “With … our knowledge of other cultures relativizing our attitudes and depriving us of any norm, we “exist in a state of continuous construction and reconstruction …”. As time passes by, change becomes an inevitable consequence. People lose their true selves and start thinking and shaping themselves from the viewpoint of virtual online friends. Rheingold says, “We live in each other’s brains, as voices, images, words on screens”. The significant usage of electronic platforms has resulted into reduced in-person talks and bonding among families. Humans show a decline in basic emotional states of empathy, sympathy and compassion due to the presence of a screen mediator during conversations. Instead of carefully thinking about a particular topic like news headlines, people get engaged in the presentation style which includes attractive fonts and moving images. Hence, no attention is paid to the main content which is left without analysis.
The interactive media imposes detrimental effects. The distinct between real, trustworthy source of information and the fraud, self- created data is a vital aspect to become aware about. If not given a careful thought before believing any piece of data, people might get trapped by the large firms for the sake of own profits. The news companies sometimes pay money to popular websites to get more viewers and spread false rumours. Therefore, every individual should remain skeptical about the facts and theories one comes across to avoid believing things that do not exist in reality.
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