Social media became one of the fundamental parts of modern reality, and younger generations’ representatives cannot imagine a life without any digital presence. While the networks eased the global connection, became a place to implement novel technologies, and impacted cultures, their influence on people is rather severe. Platforms develop addictions, willingness to fit the unrealistic standards destroys individuals’ mental health, and the absence of legislative protection on the Internet puts everyone in danger. In my opinion, social media is a negative force for society, and this paper aims to provide evidence to support my statement.
How social media influences people’s lives is widely discussed by journalists throughout the platforms’ whole existence. In the essay “Hiding Behind the Screen” (2010), Roger Scruton explains the nature of human obsession with spending time online. The article highlights that people lose their ability to build relationships and networks in reality and become less capable of dealing with life’s occasions. Moreover, in the author’s opinion, “risk avoidance means the avoidance of accountability, the refusal to stand judged in another’s eyes, give oneself in whatever measure to him or her, and so run the risk of rejection” (Scruton 58).
The essay points out that the opportunity to hide behind the screens and avatars destroys the possibility to gain moral values through real interactions and experiences. Moreover, social media’s addictive nature is compared to binge TV watching that occurred in the previous century and led the affected people’s lives to experience issues in building careers and social connections. The author sums up by reminding that social media obsession would severely impact future generations that will grow incapable of coping with offline reality.
Negative consequences of spending time rather behind a screen than in reality described by Scruton can already be noticed in young people’s attitudes and values. The “#Being13: Inside the Secret World of Teens.” Documentary supports the journalist’s statements about people’s inability to deal with the risks and creating avatars or alter-egos to build a more predictable reality. The teens in the film admit the duality of their lives by stating that “you can create an identity that is different, maybe, than who you are” (#Being13).
Moreover, another social media issue was revealed in “#Being 13”: the interviewed teenagers consider what happens to them online as more important than the real occasions because behind the screen, “there are more witnesses” (#Being13). The documentary shows how reality differs from social media presence and discusses such issues as sexual harassment and cyberbullying that harm adolescents’ mental health. According to the narrator, social media is being used to gain popularity and authority among peers while creating no value in reality. Consequently, the interviewed teenagers admit to lacking offline communicational skills and the inability to be a part of live society.
Similarly, teenagers’ negative outcomes, like valuing social media image and communication above the real interaction discussed in “#Being 13,” are interpreted in fiction films’ plots. “Nosedive” (2016), the Black Mirror episode, describes the future society where the main currency is the online rating and makes people obsessive over the virtual reactions to their actions. According to the series, having a low rate is similar to living in poverty and being out of the social processes.
Lacie, the “Nosedive” main character, works hard on having the rate above 4 and receives an invitation to a friend’s wedding only for the people with numbers 4.5 and above. Several unfair and stressful situations make the score drop below 3, and Lacie discovers that no one welcomes her at a wedding with such a low rating. The nervous breakdown combined with society’s inability to look beyond the numbers makes her end up being in jail. The message of the “Nosedive” supports the destructive outcomes of social media obsession mentioned in the “#Being 13” documentary and discussed in the “Hiding Behind the Screen” essay.
The arguments that support social media’s presentation as the negative force for society admit that the changes we experience in the modern world would instead harm our future than improve it. Virtual space is almost risk-free because actions can be reverted, made anonymously, or evaluated differently. In my opinion, the feeling of safety and invulnerability makes people spend more time behind the screen and develop addictions to online platforms. Indeed, Scruton states that “by removing the real risks from interpersonal encounters, the Facebook experience might encourage narcissism, a self-regarding posture in the midst of what should have been other-regarding friendship” (Scruton 50).
Moreover, an opportunity to hide rather negative personal traits by creating a better image of oneself makes people dedicate more time and effort to their avatar version. The narrator who interviewed teenagers in “#Being 13” points out that “sometimes you adopt a persona in real life that is tougher on social media.” The confusion that occurs due to the people’s dual individualities harms societies, and that negative consequence becomes a worldwide trend.
Although social media impact globalization, help solve problems, and create business opportunities, individuals cannot control the platforms’ influence on them. Negative consequences of hiding behind unrealistically good avatars and prioritizing virtual connection above reality would destroy future societies because people would lose their interaction skills. It is crucial to support real-life experiences for modern children to avoid severe changes that might appear due to the significant difference between the real and online worlds.
“#Being13: Inside the Secret World of Teens.” YouTube, ConstantlySporadic. 2015. Web.
“Nosedive.” Black Mirror, season 3, episode 1, 2016. Web.
Scruton, Roger. “Hiding Behind the Screen.” The New Atlantis, 2010, pp. 48-60. Web.