We live in a time in which the way that we communicate and the way that we view ourselves is fundamentally changing. Almost everyone one in the western world is now connected to social media and they spend a significant amount of their time using this media. It is used to organise events, to communicate with friends on an individual basis and also it is used by people to present themselves to the world. People develop their personality based on what they see on social media and they often construct an entire self for themselves on the internet which can sometimes even take priority over the self which they have in the real world. By responding to the video “Live life the real way” this paper explore some of the changes which are happening in the world because of social media. It will argue that some of these changes can be seen to be very negative and will conclude by stating that social media is even going so far as to fundamentally change the way that our brains work.
The video begins with the person presenting it stating that he has over four hundred friends whom he talks to everyday but that he always feels lonely. This is a paradox which many people in the world now face and it is something which can be explained by the use of social media. Because people are friends on Facebook or other social networking sites, they often feel as if they are in touch and that they have a close connection. However, it is usually the case that these people do not actually see each other often, and sometimes not at all. By defining friendship as something which can happen across a computer and something which does not need physical contact, then social media has created a situation in which people should often feel as if they have a large amount of people to talk to, but they often do not and are left alone. The video shows this when it demonstrates how people now do not go to the trouble to form real friendships with people and that instead they settle for being friends on Facebook. In the past it would be the case that if someone wanted to communicate with someone or to pass on a comforting message that they would do so in person, or perhaps send a letter. However, now, with the use of social media many people will simply send a group message to people and will not go to the trough to actually get people together in order to spend time with each other. This leads to a situation in which many people feel lonely, despite the fact that they are supposedly in constant contact with their closest friends.
The video also draws attention to the fact that social media has completely changed the way that we relate to the experiences which we we have. Whereas before we were able to focus on things as they happening and to enjoy experiences, now many people are pre-occupied with writing about these experiences on Facebook and sharing pictures of them instead of actually having and enjoying these experiences. The video seems to make the point that this leads to a situation in which experiences are had simply so that people can put them on Facebook and that they are not had for the sake of themselves. In particular, the video draws attention to the ways in which this kind of behaviour can seriously affect the way that a person’s life goes. It suggests that if someone is completely pre-occupied with living through social media they will miss important things which are happening around them. In the video this amounts to missing true love, however it could equally be argued smaller experiences are missed everyday because people are not paying attention to the world around them but are instead focusing on looking at screens and describing their experiences rather than living them.
The video also suggests that the way in which we use social media is having a very large affect on children. It is now the case that many children in the world will be unable to remember a time before social media and that they will grow up with easily defined understandings of what it means to ‘like’ something as a result of their experience of social media. If this is the only kind of social interaction that they are used to then it is likely that this will completely change the way that this generation, and all generations to come, relate to each other and to the world. Not only does the video suggest this, but it has also been proven by scientific studies of the effect that Facebook has children’s brains. One writer notes that, as a result of using social media excessively, children, and adults do not learn or posses problem solving abilities and peoples’ ‘ability to solve problems depends not on knowledge they can store but on their capacity to connect to a place where they can retrieve the answer to find a solution…the only knowledge we need to have is the knowledge of where to find stuff’ (Chamarro-Premuzic, 2013). People are now so tied to social media that they do not know how to function without it and it has clear and obvious effects on their mental health and on their ability to be in the world.
In conclusion, it is possible to say that social media is having a very definite effect on the world and that this effect is a negative one. Social media is responsible for changing the ways that we think about friendship and social interaction. It is also responsible for a constant abstraction away from actual experience which means that many people do not know how to live at all. When combined with the effect that it is also having on children then it seems possible to say that the effect of social mediate are definitely negative.
- Chamorro-Prezmuzic, Thomas. “Is Technology Making us Stupid or Smarter. Psychology Today. 2013. Web. http://www.psychologytoday.com