Students, and people in general have become more and more attached to their personal devices and social media. The big question is this: Is social media doing us more harm than good?
Fifteen years ago a person could not jump on their dial-up Internet, go to a website like Facebook, and see what all of their friends are doing at the same time. We as a society are more connected than ever before and there is no denying that some good has resulted from the rise of social media.
Some people argue that there are many negatives that have resulted.
In the August, back-to-school issue of The Collegiate, a similar topic was covered. The issue was people not paying attention to the world around them, becoming a danger to themselves and others, as well as missing out on the little things that have historically been taken for granted. Things like chance meetings that spark new friendships or romances are not possible if everyone is staring at their phone, tablet or computer.
Another negative is what Grand Rapids Community College psychology professor Frank Conner refers to as, “Facebook envy,” in another article in this issue by Collegiate reporter Warren Sink. Sink explains what “Facebook envy” is when he tackles the sociological impacts of social media.
While Collegiate reporter Victoria Thornton’s story took a much different, more positive approach, she did point out the fact that, like Wikipedia, anyone is free to post whatever they want on Facebook. When people blindly share articles or posts from other people, without making sure they are true, fake news can go viral.
Internet users posting false information was something that happened long before the creation of Facebook and is not the only problem. Cyber-bullying is an extreme example of misusing the Internet.
When people can log in to Facebook and say whatever they want to whoever they want things can escalate quickly. Recently reports can be found on mainstream media that tell the story of kids that were targeted by people anonymously. Sometimes the situation would get so bad that the victims would end up taking their own lives.
Every case of cyber-bullying does not end the same way. In most cases the story does not end the same way. In some cases the victim might even find a system of support through the same channels that provided the aggressor with the opportunity. This is a perfect example of how paradoxical social media websites can be.
The list goes on and on and for every positive aspect, a negative rebuttal can be found and vice versa.
How are we going to find a solution to the problem that provides the perks of instantly accessing friends across the globe and somehow, at the same time, avoids all of the negative aspects? A better question is: how and why does the Internet have such a hold on our daily lives? Why is it so important how many likes a picture on Instagram or a status update on Facebook gets? Shouldn’t your own mood matter more than your level of popularity on the Internet?
There is a whole world out there and it is only catalogued on the Internet. To experience it for yourself you must unplug once in a while.