After watching The Social Dilemma on Netflix, the idea of social media negatively impacting our lives has been playing on my mind. Most of us are probably quite familiar with the arguments for and against social media, but the question is should we be limiting our use even more or avoiding it altogether?
Despite being aware of how toxic social media can be, I still use it daily along with millions of others. For some, it gets to a point where you feel left out if you don’t have an account, as social media is becoming increasingly significant in education and the workplace. We are almost expected to have a social media presence so we can interact with others – even schools and workplaces rely on us to use it to connect with classmates and colleagues.
What’s interesting to me is that it has become such a normal part of society. It is almost normal to spend hours on your phone, to check different apps multiple times a day, to respond as soon as you receive a notification. We expect people to respond instantly and get frustrated when our messages are ignored. The attitude of some is that you didn’t really do something if it wasn’t posted on social media.
“There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software.”Edward Tufte
One significant point made in the documentary was that we monitor and regulate advertisements shown on Saturday morning TV, as we all know that most children watch TV at this time. Social media is not regulated with children in mind because it was never aimed towards children initially, but there are now aspects that are geared specifically towards children. I personally feel as though social media should be age restricted; some sites do specify that users need to be of a certain age when creating an account, but these rules aren’t heavily enforced as it is easy to lie about your age, so there is no way of regulating this.
Another key point made was that Generation Z are the last generation to grow up in a world where social media didn’t exist. Social media became prominent to me when I was around 12, but I still was able to experience a time where my friends and I would just play outside and not have smartphones, so there was no expectation to be on social media. This only came about once I got older, but I was at an age where I could understand how social media was toxic and how it was changing my life, because I had previously experienced life without it.
The next generation will grow up with social media being all around them, which does seem scary – they won’t know a world before it. Increased social media use will become even more normalised as future generations may not understand the effects of it on their mental health, because they cannot make a comparison between life before and after social media.
For me personally, I have cut down my social media use as I have gotten older, but I couldn’t stop using it fully because I enjoy the positive aspects such as keeping in touch with my friends, especially as not a lot of them live close by. I think it has become such a normal part of life that it would be hard to give up fully, but that’s not to say that I can’t cut down my use even further.
One change I have made is I’ve turned off my notifications, as this was one main solution mentioned in The Social Dilemma. Those interviewed in the programme recommended this, because it just takes one notification to distract you and you could be on your phone for hours. Overall, I don’t believe that we should have to stop using social media completely because there are a lot of positive aspects to it, and if we are encouraged to exercise self-control and be aware of negative content then I think we can use it in a way that doesn’t have adverse effects.
Do you agree with deleting social media or just decreasing the time you spend on it? Share your tips for decreasing social media use in the comments!