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Times have changed and ways to achieve our need for social interaction have evolved along with the advancement of technology. The Internet has enabled people from all over the world to interact in a number of ways and thus why social networking websites have also dominated the scene and continue to thrive towards solutions of staying connected. Facebook, Youtube, Blogger, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Myspace are a few of the hundreds of platforms provided to better enhance the power of sharing. These virtual environments took on the role for passing time, staying connected with friends and family, meeting people, gaming, entertainment, keeping up to date on news and information, and self-improvement. Yet, despite the major advancements, the World Wide Web has considerably undermined our emotional capacity.
Social networking technology has negatively altered our communication with one another because it has encouraged bad behavior, lowered self-esteem, and has created a barrier within relationships. Although the Internet age has significantly changed the way people interact, it has pushed towards discouraging behavior. Despite that many utilize social media as a source for entertainment, the pressure received from what audiences view online has driven against individuality and development. Most of that percentage consists of teenagers that are easily influenced of what they view as good and bad by the things they hear and see from secondary sources.
The psychological state of what is thought as acceptable is highly persuaded by the opinions featured on their feed as well. Posting pictures of doing drugs or drinking alcohol because last week a popular classmate commented that everybody should try it at least once or ditching class because a friend messaged to join are incidents that shouldn’t be done, but continuously occur everyday. Not only has it unconsciously pushed people to judge and perceive things a specific manner, it has led and made cyberbullying a major issue within the Internet spectrum. According to Enough is Enough – an organization that seeks safer use of the Internet – 43% have experienced cyberbullying and 95% of teenagers who use social media have been witnesses to it (Enough is Enough). There has been a definite rise of damaging behavior since joining social platforms has become the popular trend. Smoking, drinking, sexual activity, crime related activities are just a few of the acts that people are pressured from their peers. The access and speed of communicating through social media has ultimately placed users in a vulnerable position of being coerced into doing harmful acts and instilling a destructive point of view. Along with the harmful influences of social networking sites, lowered esteem issues have also been on the rise amongst the public eye. A substantial part have been repeatedly linked to the constant need to gain attention either through status updates, photos, video, etc.
Social media relationships have fostered a growing narcissist within all individuals. Unfortunately, the need to have the best selfies and gain as much positive reinforcement from it has exacerbated the human tendency to be well regarded or liked in the physical world. The frequent comparisons between an individual’s life and others have gradually built upon insecurity, diffidence, and other negative emotions. Although social platforms are an accessible way to learn more about interests, it does not stop people from posting and uploading things that are detrimental to their psychological state. A lot of the positive reinforcement and feeling of acceptance relies on the achievements people showcase online. Except this also allows ANYBODY to post things. “Researchers from Humboldt University, Berlin, found that one-third of Facebook users in their study felt worse after visiting the site, which sparked frustration, jealousy, and decreased life satisfaction — particularly when viewing others’ vacation and holiday photos. Those most vulnerable to these negative feelings were people who did not post or engage in any interpersonal Facebook interactions themselves, but who used it as an information source by browsing newsfeeds and others’ profiles” (Peek).
There is also a high chance that information mentioned on the site is inaccurate and misleading. It is known that many people on social networks present idealized versions, leading others to take pity onto their own lives if he/she thinks they will never get to that rewarding stage. It has been conducted that women are more prone to depression resulting from media. In a current study by University of Connecticut, “women with high levels of body image self-discrepancy were more likely to engage in social comparison from exposure to thin-ideal advertisements, as well as more likely to have those comparison processes induce self-directed negative consequences”. While on the surface social networks appears to bring people together, a number are eventually diagnosed to depression, envy, poor self-esteem, and social isolation. The impacts of using social media and many of the results have hindered our sense of connection by taking away the initial goal of many platforms -to stay informed of people, but it has just led the gateway to poor mental health.
Social networking has definitely given people something to do while in midst of boredom, but it has also created an emotional disconnect and in due course, a physical separation. It is responsible for contributing to the lack of social interaction when met face-to-face. Out of habit, people automatically resume to scrolling though their feeds on their phones, laptops, and tablets when with others. People feel neglected and ignored, thinking they are probably not worth the other person’s time. This causes rising tension between both parties. The Internet has become a haven to escape to, which has placed social media addiction as a detriment to developing people skills. The lack of social interaction affects the person’s business and career environment, but also pushes people out of their personal lives. In one study, the results confirmed the discomfort of young people when they are offline and it showed, “how damaged or conflicting family relationships lead individuals from 15 years old to spend more time connected to the Internet in an attempt to supplement or protest against their family interactions”. People are becoming dependent on checking these sites because they feel it is their only source of a social life at that certain point. Not understanding the consequences of social media addiction has made it a disruptor to reality and contradicts the objective of getting to know someone when given opportunities to do so. An emotional and physical barrier has become a price that comes along with using social networking sites when individuals rely on it too much. Some suggests that communicating through online chat forums or apps is more efficient than telephone or mail. Social scientists have found that their digital use is beneficial because it lets individuals stay in touch with people from far away and sometimes knowing more about someone than if they were to talk in person. Most people agree that phone calls or preparing a letter eats away time and usually demand immediate responses, which often leads to awkward silences. While the Internet has given us the joy of staying connected with friends and family, peers and acquaintances, in addition to people we have never met in person, around the world, there is no overall quality control to what you read or see. Only judgments can be made and because media postings are usually meant for more than one person to view, it loses the proximity and privacy of face-to-face discussions.
Social media relationships take on the role of display and in the end, many disputes, misunderstandings, and disagreements have escalated as a result of superficial contact via monitors and portable devices. Text are often construed and interpreted a different way just based on the tone people read it in and it becomes problematic when he/she is attacked with comments on something the person didn’t intend to make. In the case, United States V. Drew, a thirteen-year-old girl named Megan Meier killed herself after receiving harassing messages on Myspace from someone she thought was her online boyfriend, “Josh Evans.” This case drew people from all over because state officials weren’t able to pursue any action since they could not provide any criminal evidence to prosecute. “This case has done more than increase accountability; it now exposes everyone who misrepresents themselves, seemingly in any way, on the Internet in violation of Terms of Service to federal criminal prosecution”. For that very reason and slightly previously mentioned, not everything on the Internet is truthful. It becomes unreliable, especially on a business aspect, and the digital communication is only temporary compared to the goal if you were to eventually speak to him/her in person later on. Whether or not this platform benefits for the community of individuals remains uncertain as everybody identifies with what they see or hear on the Internet differently.
The World Wide Web instantly became the leading method for knowledge as well as communication because of the accessibility and efficiency of information that more often has become one click away. However, this has also led to passive-aggressive behavior, where a select few choose to send things that they would never say to the person(s) on the other end. Yet, along with the joy of efficient knowledge and easy access to communication, there are consequences to using social networks that can altar an individual’s behavior, mind-set, and relationships with others. Virtual relationships are only conditional and in retrospect, rely on a number of factors that can easily interfere with this form of communication. Try having a relationship when the Internet connection/wi-fi service is down or running extremely slow or when the battery dies in midst of a explaining something very important. Social networks should not be encouraged as a substitute to face-to-face communication or learning how to negotiate public and private matters, but as a temporary alternative with the realization that there faults in participating in online networking.
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