Social media… The dark side. Does anyone still remember a world without social media?
It is hard to believe that only a little over a decade ago, our way of life was really different from the way it is now.
I am not a huge fan of social media myself, partly because I prefer to live life in the real world, and partly because am naturally a private individual. And yet here I am, using social media to let you hear my opinion on social media. The benefits of social media are very hard to ignore.
The social media of present is of enormous risks for individuals, communities, firms, and even for society as a whole.
Examples to this “dark side” of social media include cyberbullying, addictive use, trolling, online witch hunts, fake news, and privacy abuse, and now today promoting the most horrific violence.
People are on social media because they think it enhances their lives. I used to be on Twitter and I did a persona of a Graffiti artist and looking back it’s a nonsense.
Are people really getting on social media to socialize or are they surveying other people and their posts to see what goes on? Are they venting about their dislike of politics or government entities in the world in general?
The fact is: to be a hyper-connected millennial today is to exist in multiple realities. To be both present within and outside of your own experiences, living them while simultaneously observing them; and assessing their shareability.
People are producing daily content to the point that we’re almost convinced that our feeds are a truer representation of ourselves than who we are in real life. It’s smashed the walls between public and private, edited out the messiness, embraced a self-regarding gaze of constant surveillance.
How many likes will this get?
Am I funny enough?
Does this look too edited?
Or too real?
A man who I have followed for years and who is a true genius sums it perfectly – Black Mirror Charlie Brooker with the episode Nosedive If ever there was a message to show how the world is going is this.
But could we turn these examples on their head and use such social-media activity to foresee horrible real-world events? That might seem unlikely, given that such attacks appear to come from out of the blue, carried out by “lone-wolf” individuals with no criminal record. And with billions of online users, detecting who will act sounds like looking for a needle in a haystack – especially as, prior to any attack, each “needle” may be effectively indistinguishable from any other straw of “hay”.
I think as I type this it’s looking like a bleak time and I hope there is a change and soon. As you read this, there are undoubtedly individuals online who are developing the intent and capability to carry out further violent attacks.
No doubt that social media is changing and will continue to change our society. This change is permanent because the upcoming generation won’t even know a world where social media does not exist. This has its advantages and disadvantages, but like everything else, it’s up to the user to decide whether social media can enhance their lives or not and this all depends on how they decide to use it.