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Among the principal defects of social media is cyber bullying. A survey conducted by Slonje & Smith (2008) on cyber bullying shows an estimate of over 90% of social media users have witnessed cyber bullying. A similar studies by ‘Enough is enough’ – A Non-Government organization fighting for internet security showed that 33% of the users of the internet and social forums had fallen victims of cyber bullying. The cyber bullying is not limited to specific users. Those with the health of physical defects are likely to get negative comments in these social platforms. Although some people may sympathize with their post and health situations, others will make funny and hurtful comments about their looks, their illness or their posts in general. Other users of social media will just post negative comments pertaining various illness. Upon encountering such, the ill-stricken will feel stigmatization.
Hinduja & Patchin (2010) elaborates this showing how a post of a disabled person will have fewer likes in Facebook compared to a picture of a beautiful or handsome and physically fit person. The latter will also get million positive comments, with the first getting negative comments and some few thoughtful posts. This is a clear indication that the actual stigmatization and victimization among people living with illness has been extended to social forums such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Just like the real stigmatization, victimization through cyberbullying cause’s mental torture and leads to psychological illness such as mental disorders and stress among the ill persons. The exposure of these victims to cyberbullying at this moment worsens their health conditions.
Social forums create a basis for isolation. Access to social media exposes one to their environments and what is happening around them. Through this media, one gets the news, fashions and the talk of the town. Research shows how this exposure extends mental torture among patients with limited mobility who wishes they could be part of such lives out there. Social forums have created grounds for unfair comparison. Through the media, one can judge how others are living out there. A team of researchers through their survey showed that 95% of the users of social media spend most of their time comparing their lives with those of other peoples they interact with social media. This is a typical experience that befalls users of social media with ill-health. Probably, they will encounter posts of healthy people enjoying life out there. This forms the basis of stress, mental torture, and self-denial. This has led to most users of social media experiencing complex psychological disorders.
The social forums such as Facebook, whatsapp and twitter have stood out over the years as propagators of rumors and false information. A survey by Keim & Noji (2011) shows that over 35% of the data shared through the social media is untrustworthy and unreliable. Equally, a more significant number of blogs and posts contain fantastic information with the aim of manipulating the target group. It has been noted that a large number of pharmaceutical posts shared in social forums target money making with little concern to the aspect of human life and health. Due to lack of accountability on what one posts, people living in ill-health end up retrieving wrong information from the social media. This lands them to wrong treatments, reduced medication, and complex health problems. Research by Seo Mohapatra & Abdelzaher (2012, May) shows that 75% of the users of social media do not trust the information they get from these sources. Detailed research on same can only validate the reliability of pharmaceutical details retrieved from social media. However, people living in ill-health may lack the resources to carry out further research, ends leads them to mislead information.
Social media consists of modern day “influencers” – but the reality is that this media platform does more than influence our daily views and notions of identity of others and ourselves, it literally warps and moulds our opinions and puts pre-conceived notions into our heads that influence the way we behave towards other people and the way we interact with. This forms prejudice towards certain ethnicities and gender stereotypes. It’s better to be curious, than judgemental.
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