Are we hiding behind selfies and negative social media behaviour instead of promoting human interaction and kindness?
A soccer commenter in the United Kingdom once said, “everyone is as brave as a lion behind the screens of their computer or phone.” This cogent point made me think and reminisce of the days when socializing meant face-to-face interactions or when confrontations were handled in the backyard (at least the confrontations that I experienced as a child in the 1990’s.)
With approximately 1.5 billion monthly Facebook users around the globe, social media has become an integral part of our lives and is unavoidable (unless one lives under a rock.)
Social Media has now made it OK to laugh at the expense of others and to hid behind comments that would not be welcome in offices, schools, religious settings, and most public establishments.
For all the good that social media has created with social movements and access to large amounts of information, there is a side of this new technology that is destroying what it means to be human. The level of narcissism in our society is at all-time highs in my humble opinion. Narcissism is defined as “excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance.” To prove my point, scroll down on the Facebook profile pages of your friends, and count how many of your “friends” have profile pics of themselves in perfectly posed photos showing the “right amount” of cleavage, duck lipped faces, bathroom mirror shots of their six-packs, Sunday best bow-tie attires, and on and on.
Here’s another exercise for Facebook or Twitter account holders. Scroll down your news feed and count how many times you see images, videos, or posts that are incendiary in nature. Inappropriate comments about racial/ethnic minority groups, the LGBT community, immigrants, women, disabled folks, and the list goes on. Social Media has now made it OK to laugh at the expense of others and to hide behind comments that would not be welcome in offices, schools, or religious settings, and most public establishments. So the question now becomes – why do we feel the urge or need to spew hatred behind closed doors? The answer is simple; social media is wearing away at our empathy and human connectedness.
Why do we feel the urge or need to spew hatred behind closed doors?
A friend recently opened up to me and shared that she takes roughly 30 selfies a day and picks the “best” one to post on her Instagram account. “My friends see me as happy but don’t see my low points. I have control of my Instagram self but not my actual self,” she explained. Another friend shared that she had to quit Facebook months ago because she could not bear to see her old high school friends get all the likes on their pictures while she had next to none. “Social Media is exhausting and depressing when everyone is posting their happy weddings, baby showers, and happy lives, while my life reflects none of that,” Melanie grimaced.
More recently, the horrific attacks in Paris were marked by the Facebook profile picture app campaign that allowed users to integrate the French flag with a profile picture of the users choosing. I was excited to see so many people from different walks of life embrace those affected by these attacks. While I’ll leave the political arguments about ISIS’ motivations for those that politic, it was shocking to see how other Facebook users demonized those that changed their pictures to show support for France. Statements like “half the people on Facebook cannot locate Paris” or “why should we care about Paris when we have problems in [FILL IN THE BLANK],” or “what about black lives or lives in the Middle East or Africa?” As valid as these points may be, was the weekend of the terror attacks in France the appropriate time to raise all other society ills? I’ll let you, the reader decide. The truth remains, however; social media provides quick access for unwarranted rhetoric to be shared. For this particular issue, it’s almost like an individual holding an AIDS awareness sign at a Breast Cancer rally event. It’s a good sign at the wrong event, and at the wrong time.
Technology created to make us more connected has now led to constant digital bullying, overt racism, and narcissist behaviour that future generations will mock us for engaging in.
I can go on and on about the negatives of social media, but that would become depressing. However, it must be noted that technology created to make us more connected has now led to constant digital bullying, overt racism, and narcissist behavior that future generations will mock us for engaging in. To best sum up my argument, ask yourself how you feel after you look at your Facebook or Twitter or Instagram accounts? How do you feel when you scroll down the YouTube comments section of a video? Do you feel emotionally connected to others? Intellectually aroused? Or less hopeful about the human race?
Much love goes out to those that spend their time on their social media pages sharing positive and uplifting messages, and creating awareness and education on different societal issues that affect us all. So here’s my parting gift for those that care. After you read this article, put down the phone/ turn off the computer, take a look at those that you love and thank them for what they mean to you. Then take a walk outside, stop and appreciate the breeze, the birds flying and the trees, and just appreciate life for what it is and don’t post that feeling anywhere. Then, ask yourself how that feels versus the #DigitalDrama we see daily in social media.
Love this. So very true. And I’ll have you know that this rock that I recently found and crawled under is nestled amongst the beauty of nature and in the presence of Gods most precious beings. Feels so much better than being in the midst of a Facebook feed!!
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I really liked this article but I have to disagree with the section on the Paris attacks. I don’t see it being the same as ‘bringing an AIDS sign to a breast awareness campaign’ because in the case of the social media response there was a related issue; terrorism. The issue many had was that why has Facebook, other social media sites and the Western media focused so much on the Paris attack but ignored terror attacks that happen daily, and even on the same day as Paris, in the other countries around the world. It was no to belittle… Read more »
Aileen, thank you for your feedback and thoughts. I really appreciate your perspective on the Paris attacks and the discussion about the Western media. The media bias is unbearable at times which is why the internet is our outlet for thought provocative conversations and debates. Again, i appreciate your feedback. Stay well…..
Well said Bill. Thanks for your feedback and input. Lets keep the positive vibes going….
Social media like any other invention was supposed to improve the human condition and knowledge; however, like any other kind of innovation, the bad people have used it to mock and belittle people instead of trying to understand them.
Chiluba, your article is one of the best I’ve ever read online. I also deeply appreciate Jules’ comments. I’ve appreciated the opportunity that the Internet has provided for those whose concerns have not been addressed by the mainstream media; for example, bullying in the schools. A public forum has been provided for the expression of legitimate points of view that have been overlooked or ignored by the media. But the answer to Chiluba’s comment is a most emphatic “YES!” Anonymous posting removes inhibitions. The potential for misunderstanding is great. Differences seem to be exacerbated. I started posting at websites in… Read more »
Well said Jules…I appreciate your feedback on my article…Its imperative that we remain critical of things deemed as “normal” in todays society. Because like MLK once said…. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Thanks for your feedback
Is Social Media Destroying Our Humanity? Yes! I have been commenting several years here on GMP. I have mentioned time and time again just how this vast de-socialization is taking place here in America. It is largely the result of social media. However, the narcissism here in America commenced long before the social media craze. Today in America, we have become a me and I focused society. It is no longer about we or us. It is all about me, myself, and I. When this occurs people become desensitized to the thoughts, feelings, and even existence of other people. Selfies… Read more »