Social Media Dramatically Influences Social Identity

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Introduction

Social media has firmly integrated into humans’ everyday lives over the last decades. Products of technological progress replace individuals’ functions and fasten their life by providing them with calculations, planning, entertainment, creating schemes, graphs, and other visual content. Numerous smart functions simplify peoples’ activities, satisfy their needs, and speed up society’s development. With the help of the Internet, individuals received quick and vast access to knowledge and communication. The use of social media is becoming more popular within days, and many people are concerned about the current replacement of face-to-face contacts with online interrelations. Several studies have been evaluating the impact of social media on humans’ condition and perception of the outer world. It is clear the internet communities influence social identity, and in this assignment, its positive and negative effects on peoples’ personalia will be estimated.

The impacts of social websites on humans’ psychological state, emotions, and behavior form a social conduct model. The origin of social media usage, the initiatives leading a modern man to be a part of it have complex content and will be researched from each side. It is harsh to estimate the solitary negative influences of Internet resources; that is why it is essential to reveal the positive impacts of social media and compare them afterwards with undesirable changes.

Social Media Impact on Psychological State and Mental Health

Platforms available on the Internet allow humans to be social, share knowledge and experience, support relations despite the distance factor and reduce the communication gap with people having various disorders with self-expression. Social necessities take an essential part in human well-being and are placed on the third step of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The importance of personal identity, attachment to social groups, having friends and family provide any human with a feeling of confidence, significance and belonging somewhere particular.

Social Skills and Knowledge Sharing

Using social media gives numerous possibilities to share data, improve language skills, and find a community group with mutual interests. Online platforms have taken a greater significance lately, especially during COVID-19 epidemics, and provide students with high-quality knowledge. A study by Barrot (2021) estimating the 17 most common social media websites has shown overwhelming outcomes as language learning and educating platforms. Learning a second language can also be available on online platforms providing native speakers as pen-pal friends. Such experience broadcasts familiarity with the language, its people, their customs, traditions, and beliefs. It breaks the borders with communication inception while operating a new language.

Speaking, formulating thoughts, and other types of self-expression are the most complicated steps on the way to a decent level of new language usage. That is why communication with a native speaker is essential throughout all the stages of studying. Along with common difficulties in foreign language learning, Kormos (2020) underlines individual dissimilarities among individuals that have an impact on the process and results of the studying process. Specific learning struggles involve from 5% to 15% of the population and multitasking in teaching protocols can enhance the results of such students (Kormos, 2020). The interaction with same-aged peers can involve a beginner, entertain him with discussed topics, and hasten a process of education in a relaxed environment of communication.

Positive Impacts on People with Various Disorders

Individuals with various disorders complicating their self-expression use social media to smoothen the disturbances appearing during live communications. Humans with dyslexia, stammering, autism prefer contact with others via the Internet as such conditions bring them confidence, reduce stress levels, and allow them to distinguish less from being ‘normal’. In a cross-sectional study engaging 44 adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 56 clinical comparison groups, it was proved that social media was associated with a better quality of friendship (Van Schalkwyk et al., 2017). Moreover, researchers found no interconnections between the level of anxiety, social media use, and quality of friendship (Van Schalkwyk et al., 2017). That means teenagers and adults with ASD need online platforms providing them with high-quality interaction and a unique compensation of online relations avoiding meanwhile anxiety via live interconnections.

Dyslexia is a type of learning disability that implicates issues with reading, texting, and spelling. The research by Reynolds and Wu (2018) revealed that for individuals with dyslexia it is a tougher struggle to write, not to read. However, modern technological progress allows them to express themselves adequately without stress and anxiety. Designing special tools can simplify the process of texting for individuals with reading and writing disorders and allow them to use social media equally with other people. Wu et al. (2019) developed a writing support tool that was tested on 19 people with dyslexia and showed a higher level of confidence between them while texting in social networks. Social media tends to a continuous improvement and adapts for people with disabilities helping them express themselves and simplify everyday life struggles. Such positive impacts of social media deserve attention and future improvement facilities.

Keeping in Touch and Finding Confederates

Social networks satisfy peoples’ societal needs and allow them to search and experiment with their identity. Supporting friendship interrelations through the Internet helps people keep in touch and save feelings and emotions towards others. The necessity of having friends is taking a central part of social needs, and many humans having friends are perceived as leading a decent life (Jeske, 2019). Social support is also a need that can be satisfied whilst using social networks. A wish to belong to some public group having mutual interests and views is essential for self-realization and identity seeking. The internet opens an opportunity to numerous people that search for like-minded persons on various platforms. Finding similarities can motivate people and bring them feelings of warmth and union. Such mood can positively affect further achievements and perception of life. Using various social media, humans modify the way they express themselves which can be called personal identity management or personal branding (Riva, Wiederhold and Cipresso, 2016). By enhancing this ability, online users can promote themselves with effective outcomes at professional and relational levels.

Slander and Untrustful Data Spreading

However, changing social identity and giving easy access to it online can lead to negative impacts such as spreading untrustful data and slander. Some messages have provocative, accusative meaning on purpose, and a victim of such process might not be psychologically ready to react back. Children and teenagers with non-stable mental health can suffer from various accusations online. The research by de la Vega and Ng (2018) defines trolling online, its intentions, and the proper ways to react to it. If a person understands the purpose of false blames and provocation, if he learns to disclosure the leading factors, that ability can serve him in future life and make him invulnerable and immune to similar complicated occasions. Nevertheless, with the young generation, it is essential to protect and support them from the family side.

Impacts on Critical Thinking and General Awareness

As previously mentioned, individuals tend to cooperate with others of similar interests and visions. Social relationships with like-minded people are called homophily and form social nets that become firmer within time (Kaakinen et al. 2018). Personal network surroundings influence the quality of content humans face in social media, and various algorithms also assess that information providing the user with the data he is interested in. That means homophily in social communities limits the data spreading and negatively impacts mutual knowledge, critical thinking, and familiarity with the up-to-date world. Limited comprehension can become one of the reasons for the conflicts on the internet and in offline circumstances (Kaakinen et al. 2018). Social networks estimated the interests of their users encouraging them with new similar content limiting their general awareness and the acquisition of knowledge in an online format.

Depression, Anxiety, and Suicide Attempts

Social media can be the cause of peoples’ depression, anxiety, and suicidality. The content majority shares online rarely express an upset, miserable, gray mood as usually humans leave all the quarrels and conflicts behind the scenes. Nevertheless, while scrolling pages online, a user perceives the outer world as constantly happy, satisfied, having no miseries. Such interpretation leads a person to a continuous self-comparison with others, evaluating solitary limited content presented online. These are clue factors for depression and dissatisfaction of a user involved in assessment and comparison of other people and his reality. Moreover, depressed social media users are oftentimes editing their pictures with dark blue, gray colors receiving less feedback from their subscribers at the same time (Reece and Danforth, 2017). Such actions lead to subsequent worsening of the condition, let social media control a person’s mood and state.

Social media platforms are frequently used in terms of expressing suicide thoughts affecting the young generation. Scholars and psychologically unstable humans are the most significant part of society that is at the risk to be controlled and influenced by groups online with the mutual idea of suicide. The rapidly increasing popularity of social media providing adolescents the ability to share their opinions and express themselves (Robinson et al. 2015). However, social media can be a hazard for teenagers with low confidence, easily influenced, and suggestible. The young generation can change behavior models and initiate suicide attempts due to social media use (Coppersmith, 2016). Such influence of online platforms should be taken into consideration by physicians and families to prevent the negative psychological influence of social communities on children.

Anxiety is also associated with the vast use of social media, and its impacts on everyday life are surprising. Peoples’ psychology and upbringing lead them to subconscious wish to be decent and admirable by those around them. Even though it is impossible to please everyone with one’s actions, every human wants to achieve that goal. One of the possible reasons to be admired and loved by subscribers takes roots from this explanation, and consequently, if a reduced number of likes and commentaries appear in the account, a user starts being nervous and dissatisfied. A study by Alkis, Kadirhan and Sat (2017) proved that undervaluation or negative estimation of a shared post by others can become reasons for one’s worry and anxiety. The research also demonstrated a higher level of anxiety among more active users of social media (Alkis, Kadrihan and Sat, 2017). This can indicate the straight correlation between time spent online and the current condition of the human. That is why the boundaries of the online period should be highly valued with teenagers and scholars as their psychiatric system itself tends to vary and depend on numerous factors.

Developing Addiction

Social media might lead to addiction and is highly spread between people having a ‘weak’ or ‘demanding’ reward system. People having problems with connection to one of their networks can develop impulsive checking disorder that eventually can intensify into addiction or a wider psychiatric state (Kuss and Griffiths, 2017). Compulsives or retreaded actions can grow into obsessive-compulsive disorder and affect other aspects of life such as constant checking on the closed door, turned off iron or stove, or repeating certain words.

Research also has shown that there is a thin border between regular habitual usage and addictive problematic use of social media sites suggesting that symptoms such people experience correspond with substance-related addictions (Kuss and Griffiths, 2017). That means addictive behavior towards social media use might have similar paths in neurologic system engaging reward system and leading to withdrawal and relapse syndromes after some time of rejection. However, social media not always indicates addiction, negative implications on mental health. When the usage of online platforms becomes uncontrollable and compulsive, addiction is more likely to develop (Hou et al. 2019). Therefore, the smart and limited usage of social media can help predict its negative impacts and enhance its influence on society.

Addiction or uncontrolled habit of online activity can worsen the academic results and attention focus of scholars and any humans engaged in the working process. The primary focus, or dominant idea, studied by scientist Pavlov, plays an essential role in humans’ work involvement and their efficiency. The human brain possesses a variety of functions that can lead to overwhelming outcomes; nevertheless, attention division and inadequate discipline are more likely to lead a human into low output mode, tiredness, and poor results. Attention focus correlates with discipline, conduct model, schedule plan, and experience from family and previous occasions. Planning the primary focus during important assignments can lead to a successful result. The human brain can handle a limited number of disturbances happening at once: this information is most significant for drivers as most people use a mobile phone while driving. Such attention sharing had already led to several car accidents and deaths, and many countries and states implement laws prohibiting cell phone usage whilst driving the car. Statistic data estimates more than 35000 people were killed and more than 2.2 million were injured in crashes in 2015, and human error could be a contributing factor in 90% of the cases (Atwood et al. 2018). Attention sharing takes the person away from current circumstances and worsens the outcomes of his activity.

Distraction and Attention Focus

Social media notifications play a similar role in peoples’ everyday life as they play a role of entertainment and amusement. Humans are more likely to pay attention to a bright screen with moving pictures than reading a monotone dry boring text or learning some new information. Social media is one of the most central disturbances in the process of education and work, and people oftentimes struggle to fight with addiction checking cell phone notifications, talking with a friend on messenger, or sharing a post on Instagram. Managing priorities is a clue factor leading to fast and productive activity. Controlling the addiction to social media distinguishes a successful person from an average one. Various research claims that the most productive action to be done on the way of becoming efficient and productive is managing the periods for cell phone usage (Kuss and Griffiths, 2017). Individuals should educate and limit themselves finding strength and capacity to handle it and to insert new habits into their lives.

Academic Performance and Quality of Sleep

Adolescents also find social media more attractive than education, and addictive involvement in communication online worsens their academic performance, sleep quality, and leads to burnout. Several types of research underline the importance of social media in scholars’ lives and their increased level of satisfaction from the implementation of social networks in the education process (Al-rahmi et al. 2016). Still, the importance of concentration among adolescents is vital for their future performance, achievements, and collaboration with others. A study by Evers et al. (2020) proved that intensive social media use was associated with inadequate sleep quality, academic performance, and burnout among adolescents. Sleep quality may suffer because of the screen brightness and habits to use the cell phone in bed. The brightness of the screen can infringe circadian rhythms and confuse the brain about time. Neurons receiving information from eye receptors perceive the light coming from the gadget as daylight, interfere with hormone production, and disturb the sleeping routine.

Social Media Impact on Conduct

A behavioral model of every modern human takes after popular tendencies, fashion styles, and up-to-date information. The flow of life never stands in one place, and rapid change of goals and routines should be perceived as a standard consequence of lifecycle. Social media is one of the most prevalent sources of interaction between humans, and its impacts on individuals’ behavior are inevitable. Online communication and sharing impacts confidence, self-esteem, and self-presentation. Social media changes the perception of others due to their status online inducing idealization; it encourages a demand for likes, positive feedback, and assessment from other people, aggravates distorted reception of the outer world.

Influence on Confidence Level and Self-Esteem

Confidence level depends on a combination of multiple factors and changes peoples’ behavior model. Usually, people judge numerous criteria that are essential for them at the time that make them confident. If some part of the assessment does not correspond with expectations, the confidence level falls. The positive feedback on social media raises the level of self-assurance and positively affects the users. Such interrelations have a clear meaning as social adaptation and acceptance is one of the most significant needs of a man. However, the research by Burrow and Rainone (2017) has proven that the higher demands from life a person has, the lower sensitivity to social media feedback he develops. People setting harsh aims are mostly concerned with themselves and lose the part of attention spread on the community’s opinion. It will be not right to claim that such people are separated from society and are not interested in social criticism. Such contingent of people is more likely to have strong personalia and self-oriented focus which correlates with confidence level and self-esteem. Thus, social media makes humans more sensitive to public judgments than confident and strong.

Individuals obsessed with social media or those who use it in terms of enhancing their self-image reach the opposite outcomes. It was estimated people with addictive attitudes towards social networks have lower self-esteem and satisfaction with life (Hawi and Samaha, 2016). A variety of works prove the importance of limiting the usage of online platforms. When a person becomes an advanced user, numerous issues interfere in his life flow. The attractiveness and entertainment provided by social media remain seductive; however, the problem of its unlimited and uncontrolled usage will only aggravate.

Creating Idols

Social comparison initiated by social media controls modern people’s conduct and leads them to further actions aiming to correspond to up-to-date pictures or idols. Absorbing content online, humans find other active users that become their ideal image they want to emulate. Idealization has positive and negative sides, and if it motivates the user to achieve goals and improve qualities, it stays a decent inspiration. Focusing on personal outcomes usually leads to self-benefit and positive thinking, whereas focusing on other idealized issues brings harmful results (Vogel and Rose, 2016). Since the idol impedes self-realization and controls one’s actions and thoughts, it might bring harm and excessive control over life. Perfect images in social media rarely correspond to the factual reality, and most people do not feel that. Moreover, the habits and advice are oftentimes subjective and can lead to various outcomes with different people. The ideal perception covers clear thinking, self-control, and independence in decision-making. Such people are easier to influence, control, and manipulate as most of the time they do not possess any opinion.

Fans, while idealizing, lose the edge between reality and fantasy which mostly corresponds to the teenage perception of the world. Adolescents are more likely to imagine various facts about their idol’s life. During idealization, they realize essential features and habits a perfect person should have from their perception. This is how social media can distort reality and change priorities among the young generation. Yan and Yang (2020) noticed that a modern tendency of idealism in social media has grown from solitary worshiping to being able to co-cultivate their idols following their everyday life, including public images, work, and personal activity. Indeed, nowadays, it is popular to share every part of a celebrity with subscribers and admirers, and users follow their life for entertainment.

Providing the public with personal data, common users have an impression of being close to celebrities, being part of their life. Such relations build a firm level of trust which can be used for advertisement, consumption controlling, deceit statements, and many other purposes. Data provided by Djafarova and Trofimenko (2018) shows that social media users deem celebrities credible if they are following specific criteria and present themselves in a particular way. Idols can manipulate the goods their public consumes, narrate about their success achieved encouraging fans to emulate their example (Duffy and Pooley, 2019). However, not all the stories described by popularities coincide with true events. False data, misinterpretations can lead fans and social media users into an incorrect perception of the events and make them set different priorities, build various plans to achieve a similar result.

Idols and celebrities can also bring a negative impact on society persuading it in data that can affect health and life safety. Some popular individuals lack knowledge in medicine but still claim themselves experts in medically interrelated spheres. For instance, a modern anti-vaccination tendency takes over the world and brings significantly inadequate consequences for society. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of vaccines is non-discussable; still, due to propaganda also supported by some celebrities, an essential part of the population rejects taking vaccines. Humans led themselves into the situation when they let mass media, other subjective opinions control their decisions and perception. We can endlessly blame social networks for spreading false information and influencing our lives. What is more important to understand is the worth of peoples’ development and critical thinking that can limit the manipulative impact of the outer world and provide them with a life they manage to control.

A Demand for Likes and Social Assessment

Several studies have proved the common reaction of the human brain on behavior models aiming to receive feedback from other people. The number of likes initiating the reward system in the ventral tegmental area and striatum shapes reinforcement learning (Sherman et al. 2018). Humans receive positive feelings after comprehension of social appreciation. Consequently, the further reaction is a demand for a constant positive demand satisfying needs and wishes. That is why the conduct of many individuals is related to continuous posting and content sharing. It might also be possible that people are insecure about themselves and use social media for confirmation of their presence and appearance.

The Influence of Social Media on Emotions and Mood

Online content impacts the mood and emotions of individuals on some occasions being able to control them. The specific sensitivity towards social media influence depends on various characteristics of a human. Similar data can lead to happiness and depression, life satisfaction, or misery. Using social media with a personal goal to improve some aspects of one’s life will bring beneficial outcomes to every human. Concentrating on self-realization and development will highlight advantageous data. People with unbalanced states might suffer from social media massive amount of information and for them, the use of online platforms should be limited. Generally, social media can motivate a person, make him feel happy, supported, and not lonely.

Impacts on Teenagers’ Mood

Some people, especially teenagers have an unbalanced emotion level due to hormones production, formation of personalia, and continuing process of education. The impacts of social media on adolescents can be underestimated as the young generation tends to be very sensitive to acceptance and rejection via the Internet. Teenagers have a prolonged development of reflective processing and cognitive control which can lead them to be explicitly responsive to emotion-arousing media (Crone and Konijn, 2018). Indeed, adolescents have a high demand to be accepted, to be suitable for the preferred social group.

The findings in neuroscience showed the widespread changes in the conformation and structure of the teenage brain such as increased number of white matter connections that might be related to behavioral control and specific changes in grey matter volume in the areas answering for social communication and understanding (Crone and Konijn, 2018). These outcomes can emphasize the importance of social media for the current young generation, its growing significance in their lives and the changes it brings to teenagers’ psychoneurological reactions. Studying the constantly changing emotional reactivity of adolescents can enhance their comprehension and help improve the changes needed in social media control.

Happiness and Social Support or Misery and Loneliness

Social media can either improve one’s mood or lead one to a depressive condition. Chae (2018) researched the interconnection between relative happiness and social comparison whilst social media usage. The results of the study showed that Instagram and LinkedIn were associated with social comparison and reduced levels of happiness (Chae, 2018). When a person is engaged in the information-rich media environment, he tends to idealize the object of assessment discussed earlier. Idealization also puts viewers into confusing conditions of distorted perception of life and self-presentation that can be one of the issues of misery.

Still, some content provided by social media can make a person feel happy, positive, and united with like-minded people. Images and live functions of social media such as voice messages, video materials can facilitate social presence and make an impression of talking to a person offline (Pittman and Reich, 2016). That means image and video-containing sites can make people happier than text-holding platforms (Pittman and Reich, 2016). A wish to share a present condition and receive a response from someone close also lets people feel support and social satisfaction. Loneliness is one of the issues of the modern world that might lead to depression, suicide attempts, and life disappointment. Social media allows humans to express themselves and feel support from users online. Recreation of social presence is necessary for preventing perceived lonesomeness.

Despite the fact of social support, online platforms lack the intimacy that is an inevitable part of face-to-face conversations. The feeling of closure and trust is essential to every social creature, that is why offline meetings can never be replaced with gatherings via the Internet as they do not provide the full spectrum of emotions and feelings one can receive in real life. Kinesthetic types of humans will permanently stay partially conservative as they demand a sense of holding a book in their hands instead of clicking on planchet, touching someone’s skin instead of looking at the phone screen. Social media firmly integrates into peoples’ lives; however, it can never substitute the values of live connections, emotions, and feelings.

Motivation and Body Image

Online content can motivate people with a healthy perception of body image to achieve new goals and improve their appearance. The current trend to be fit and active replaced the popular idea of the last decade of the previous century to smoke, consume alcohol, and various medications. Staying physically fit and healthy leads the population to a modern concern about the condition of their body and better social health in general. Motivation from online sources can positively impact one’s outcomes in weight loss and other sportive achievements. People can also buy courses online and train in the conditions they feel comfortable. Social media provides explanations of diet holding, proper techniques of exercise, and a close connection with professionals in the training industry.

From the other perspective, the body image can have a false perception due to current demands for models’ proportions, fashion shows, and ideal pictures of skinny girls on the TV screens. Young girls and adult females might have a misrepresented imagination of a good-looking body and its condition (Dahl et al. 2016). Many end up with anorexia and bulimia nervosa damaging their body and going far from being healthy and attractive. Such people can also find support through social media from people suffering from the same conditions and aiming to lose more weight. Online content does not limit harmful and dangerous information that can convince the young generation and humans with unstable psychology to follow specific ideas.

Spreading Sympathy and Goodness

Celebrities and idols can spread positive data and encourage others to sympathize with others, support charity programs, and aim to be a decent man. Previously, the impact of popular people in social media on people’s consumption and choices was shown from the negative perspective revealing the meaning of manipulation and critical thinking. However, some bloggers and celebrities provide society with decent-quality content and encourage others to create goodness, help people, and make morally noble actions. Initiating all these important feelings towards each other, popular people spread positivity and proper intentions inside the community. People need to help others and create firm interconnections with trustworthiness, and in which way kindness is spread to the population, it does not matter.

Conclusion

Social media influences social identity in both dramatic and positive ways. The major question to be answered is the type of personality it correlates with. Younger generations are more likely to suffer from unlimited content provided online. They also depend on social opinions and are influenced, manipulated, and persuaded easier than adults. It is essential for parents to spend with children the proper amount of time needed for their adaptation to the community, upbringing providing the right values and goals, and protection from the inadequate influence of data online. Protecting teenagers and children from negativity can help reduce dramatic changes of social media on peoples’ character.

Denying social media and its influence on the population is also fallaciously. People become more social, active, and interconnected due to social media. Studying its effects on human psychology and mental health, behavior, and mood is essential for smoothening all the drawbacks. Social media can improve social skills and broadcast knowledge, help people with various disorders feel equal to others in communication and self-representation. Online communities provide a platform for keeping in touch despite the distance factor and find like-minded people. All the negative impacts on social identity can be prevented by smart limitations and planning. Addiction, slandering, depression, anxiety, distraction, and impacts on academic performance are the outcomes of peoples’ uncontrolled usage of social media.

The latter also changes behavior influencing variously on self-esteem and confidence level, initiating idols creation, and dependence on social assessment. According to multiple studies, the character of the person defines the positive or negative effect of social media usage which means, people developing their personalia can take only advantageous aspects from online platforms. Finally, the impact on mood can also result in happiness and life satisfaction, a will to help others, and confident motivation to be healthy and fit if a person sets proper goals. Misery, loneliness, and distorted body image are reflecting the character of a person and could manifest with or without social media impact.

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