When our modern-day society, who are engulfed with new technology and social platforms, shift their way of thinking and communicating online, it can become extremely influential to those who subconsciously follow the behaviours of others, especially when it comes to celebrities and opinion leaders.
The Positives of Social Media
Social media allows users to spread awareness of social and world issues to a global audience through social sharing.
2. Encourages Creativity
Creativity can be expressed through visual story-telling on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. Social media has also encouraged users to take up photography that is easily shareable through all platforms but more frequently on Instagram.
3. Individual Expression
Social media allows users to express their own individual opinions and feelings through personal pages and a variety of social groups.
4. Increases Social Interaction
Social media has become an online platform that allows people from all over the world to connect with one another. It encourages conversation, story sharing and long-term relationships.
The Negatives of Social Media
1. Cyber Bullying
Cyber bullying is a form of online bullying that is frequently seen on social media and other sharing sites. According to Bullying UK, 56% of young people have witnessed some form of online bullying and 42% said that they have felt uneasy or unsafe online at some point in their lives.
Social media allows people to create accounts, real or fake/anonymous, where you can connect with anyone world wide and it is a 24/7 platform which leads to the facilitation of bullying during any time of the day.
Cyber bullying can be seen in many forms, including: harassment, abusive messages, false rumours, cyber stalking, exclusion, blackmail and many others. It is against the law to use threatening behaviour towards someone, regardless of whether it is online or in person, and it goes against the 1997 Harassment Act.
2. Unrealistic Expectations
Users of social media live vicariously through social identities and online personas and often share content with one another regarding aspirational relationship “goals” that would be unrealistic to each individual who sees it.
Relationship content and ‘advice’ usually come in the form of “if your boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t do … then they’re not doing it right”. These are often followed by a substantial list of unrealistic requirements that a partner should have, such as: a high paying career, an expensive car and home and other materialistic things that do not determine a persons worth.
Social media is no stranger to the sharing of travel blogs and visuals, whether it is a v-log documenting a day-by-day vacation or an Instagram post of cocktails in the Caribbean. A whopping 36% of millennials have posted misleading and altered content online to make it appear as though their travels were more exciting or luxurious than what they were in reality.
Other users see these photoshopped and filtered visuals and turn green with envy. Jealousy can encourage others to spend ludicrous amounts of money to have the same experience as those of social media influencers and opinion leaders. It can also lead to users expressing feelings of low self worth as though they have not succeeded in life, which in return breeds negativity.
Before social media, people could only compare themselves to celebrities that they had seen on tv, in movies and in magazines. However, the introduction of photo sharing and photo sharing platforms, such as Instagram, has encouraged users to create comparisons between themselves and others online, regardless of their status.
The ability to scrutinise one’s own body has been facilitated by social sharing of profile pictures and photo uploads. People are now comparing what they see in the mirror to online images that have, by no doubt, been photoshopped to the extreme to appear thinner.
Motivational fitness videos and weight loss journeys have become a popular trend on all social media platforms and people are given statements of what a perfect body is. People are brainwashed into believing that thin is beautiful and that cosmetic surgery is a must have.
Body image comparison online has led to people believing that less clothing is the quickest route to social sharing, however this has only led to the facilitation of sexualisation on a global platform and could become increasingly dangerous due to the potential of cyber bulling such as stalking or comments of hate and body shaming.
Social media has many positives that can enhance one’s own personal or business brand and allow users to discover their identities through hobbies and social interaction, but the world of social media has an extremely dark and dysfunctional side that is all too easy to get caught up in.
Stay safe online and be kind, always.