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While discussing the negative effects of social media on people, this does not imply that people should abandon social media entirely

Post by on Friday, August 5, 2022

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The digital revolution that began in the early 2000s brought with it the affordability to perfect every individual's online image, and never before had our youth enjoyed so much freedom to customize and maintain their virtual image. They can, for example, share any good content, picture, or post regardless of who they are or what their beliefs are and that particular content will represent their situation and beliefs, and there is no digital innovation that can tell you the true image of people so far. The beginning of the digital technology revolution resulted in the formation of many large social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which disrupted all the existing platforms in the past and are gaining users day by day. Similarly, the innovation wave coming from China has made smartphones very affordable, and thus almost every strata of society is permeated by the current digital technologies, making it a rationale for social scientists to research and reveal the different effects that these platforms that they leave in people.

Every day, people spend a significant amount of time on social media scrolling down the news feed liking, commenting and sharing content, and social scientists have observed certain behavioral changes in humans following social media disruption, such as people losing patience to watch or read meaningful content. The short video services pioneered by platforms such as TikTok eventually found their way into almost every social media platform, including Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. These video services eventually eroded the patience that previous generations possessed. Similarly, every content creator has adopted this change in content creation, and almost every platform now offers information in short video services, which has become one of the primary reasons for misinformation. Similarly, news services such as In Shorts innovated and began to provide news in few words. 'Little knowledge is a dangerous thing,' a quote that our teachers used to repeat in classrooms back in school, and it is finding its way into people by not reading or researching any given topic completely due to a lack of patience. In fact some students also suffer in studies due to lack of patience in reading books or learning skills which consume time. 

Narcissism is another effect that social scientists have observed in people who are addicted to social media. While social media gave people the freedom to express themselves, it also created a narrative among youth that they really mattered, causing their personalities to become narcissistic quite frequently. They believe that regardless of their content, they should be the final authority and that no one should challenge this ideology making them more self-obsessed. They occasionally experience anxiety when someone counters their narratives, and for the time being, they believe that their only goal is to defeat the counter narrator. Narcissism is a personality trait that almost everyone has to some degree. It is a psychiatric disorder that affects the majority of the population at its most severe. Narcissists exhibit numerous symptoms. They have a distorted self-image and overestimate their own abilities. They are conceited, overestimate their abilities and accomplishments, and expect to be admired for them. The term "narcissism" was coined by Sigmund Freud. It's based on the Greek myth of Narcissus, a handsome young man who fell in love with his reflection in a pool of water and eventually starved to death because he couldn't stop staring at his reflection. According to alarming publications such as Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell's The Narcissism Epidemic, today's youth are more narcissistic than previous generations.

While we know that the chemical responsible for human happiness is dopamine, social scientists believe that in order to enjoy continuous pleasure, dopamine should be released in the brain continuously. Many social experiments have linked the impressions that people get on their posts with dopamine secretion. We can witness this in our daily lives as youth share their content, they constantly check their phones to track the audience and attention that the post fetched, and the amount of dopamine secretion depends directly on the number of impressions on that particular post, making this their addiction where it becomes impossible for them to leave or take a break from social media as it leads to a decrease in pleasure. Some youth have even found this the only way to be happy in life. The concept of technological determinism, which asserts that technology, comes and shapes society according to its patterns, has no greater relevance in the modern world than people's adoption of social media, as our behaviors are being shaped by technology.

While discussing the negative effects of social media on people, this does not imply that people should abandon social media entirely. Every technology has a dark side, and it is the individual's responsibility to reap the benefits of the bright side. The addiction of social media has often been linked with the Fear of Missing Out or FOMO syndrome which the Yuval Noah Harari talks about in his book ‘Homo Deus,’ he mentions FOMO as a sickness where humans tend to check their phones quite often just to make sure that they don’t miss any news update in order to make sure that they remain in competition with the other people.

One cannot deny the importance of social media in everyone's daily lives. Social media has greatly simplified human life by freely providing information as well as access to a larger market for businesses. However, its use should not lead an individual towards painful distortions. One should limit the usage of social media according to his or her productive work. People, particularly young people, should abandon the pursuit of happiness through likes, comments, or shares in favor of pursuing happiness through something productive in life that adds to their skill set or enhances their learning. Rather than trying to be a renowned personality in a virtual world with posts and pictures, people should work on becoming such people in real life which is possible only when people instead of impressing other people start to live a productive lifestyle which is more meaningful and goal oriented.


(Author is M.Sc. Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, NIT Srinagar. Email: muzamil_02ms20@nitsri.ac.in)

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