The incredible growth of social media has made a huge impact on our daily lives. Nearly a quarter of the total time an adult spends online is spent using social media. It has become an influencing factor in our lives and the way we make decisions about topics or products we purchase. Social media sites have also changed the way we interact with each other. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn make it easy to stay connected with other people. Social media is not just important personally, it is also a wonderful resource for business to help build a professional network or look for a job.
The social interactions with teenagers has changed quite a bit since I was a teenager. Testing my freedom meant staying out past curfew or sneaking away to see my friends. Today, their freedom is at arm’s length wrapped in social media. They spend their time posting, snap chatting and creating videos on Tik Tok. Yet when they are together, you find a room full of kids with their phones in hand posting about being together.
Detoxing from Facebook
I consider myself a passive Facebook user. I click like on pictures, I post pictures of my family but I will rarely post my opinion on anything. Despite considering myself a passive user, I find myself constantly checking Facebook for alerts on pictures I have posted or a new item posted in one of the pages that I follow. As silly as I feel saying this, if I don’t check the feed I feel anxiety about what I might have missed.
During my first term as a graduate student, we were tasked with taking a look at our social media usage. I thought this was a good way to reassess my Facebook usage. I used this time to do a 5-day detox from Facebook and I learned that I don’t really need it. I found that I am much more attached to the idea of Facebook than I should be. Once I broke the pattern, I truly didn’t miss it. Although I enjoy seeing what people I know and/or love are up to, I certainly don’t need to be checking throughout the day. I also found that I wanted more interaction with others and disconnecting was good for my soul.
Social media campaign
Over half of social networkers follow a brand or person that influences how they interact daily. In 2019, there are currently over 2.4 billion monthly Facebook users in the world. Twitter is 330 million monthly active users and Instagram has 1 billion users every month. Everyday you see #tags for all different topics from politics, products to world events.
Most recently I realized that, I hadn’t heard anything more about the fires in the rain forest until I started seeing the shared photos on Instagram and Facebook. This was important to me to know and understand. I soon realized that many of the photos being shared were not recent but the facts were true and needed to be talked about.
Mass shootings which have become political and unfortunately all too common are often linked in social media to organizations that support safe gun sense. I live in Sandy Hook, CT with children, so the idea of a mass shooting happening close to home is very real and raw. I follow several groups including Sandy Hook Promise which keeps me up to date on the local, state and federal advancements as well as news in the media. Topics that are important to me show up in my feed throughout social media, so I know what is happening throughout the day.
Globally social campaign
The #MeToo movement took on a life of its own. So many women have been sexually assaulted and kept it to themselves out of fear. This movement gave the women of abuse a voice and the courage to stand up. The movement made people realize they weren’t alone, that they needed to speak up in order to heal. And while the stories come from all different walks of life and severities of the assaults, the message is still the same. No more, together we are not alone and we will fight.
Tarana Burke, a social activist and community organizer, began using the phrase “Me Too” in 2006, to promote “empowerment through empathy” among women of color who have been sexually abused. It wasn’t until 2017 following the accusations of sexual assault against Harvey Wienstein, that Alyssa Milano encouraged the use of hashtag #MeToo. They wanted to draw attention to sexual assault and harassment. The movement took off and people started adding to their stories #MeToo. Some would retell their story while others, myself included, just simply put #MeToo which was more than enough to show empowerment and empathy.
The Future of Social Media
Social media has a tie with mental health issues that arise from the need to always be connected. People risk becoming addicted to the instant gratification that social media provides and it gives dark outlets to sexual predators, cyber bullies and violence. Privacy has also become a topic of concern and has led to an increase of private messaging such as snap chat and other small group apps for online communication.
We have been taught and teach our children that what goes online stays online. This makes us think about what we are posting knowing that once information, images, video, etc. make their way onto the internet they will remain there indefinitely. You essentially give away your right to privacy when posting online. It is because of this and the shift of social media users demanding that their privacy be protected that social media is going through an evolution. Apps like Snapchat allow users to send secure content to their private connections; the content disappears after being viewed, even their use of public stories get deleted once viewed. And if another user does save an image or video, it alerts the content creator immediately. The new social media giants will be companies that put their users’ privacy first.
I am afraid for the younger generations. They have become isolated and wanting to be like the fantasy worlds they see posted online. I don’t know what the future is but I hope that new technology and apps help lead the future generations to happier fulfilled lives that are not always Instagram worthy.