The use (or abuse) of social media is as subjective and vast as it sounds. The objective of social media websites was to bring the world closer and make the world a better place to live in. Today, some of its creators might proudly say that they have succeeded in doing so. Social media in 2020 has brought the world together in the most interesting ways, but it is a fragile ecosystem, to say the least.
Social Media includes a plethora of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube etc. Together, these sites offer an overarching platform where we can learn, create content, reach out to people, and entertain ourselves. We are all equal in the world of social media with a variety of opportunities.
Facebook was the successor of a similar social media called MySpace. The prime of these two social media was in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Because of the takeover of other social media like Instagram and TikTok, Facebook lost its popularity among millennials and the Gen-Z. However, a large number of Gen-Y and Boomers are still quite active on there.
A personal perk of this social media is the ability to be in touch with your older relatives or teachers. However, outdated Facebook promotes outdated beliefs, and there is a lot of questionable content on Facebook. For instance, some of the “motivational videos” that make rounds are highly disingenuous. Their sole purpose is revenue.
Facebook also has the groups feature will have encouraged some questionable communities to exist and grow on the platform. In conclusion, it is a double-edged sword that does not affect the younger generation. Hence, its impact on society is dulled.
We have already discussed the effects of Instagram on mental health. In recent light, Instagram was voted as the most harmful app to mental health. Along with pushing questionable content, it is also the reason for rampant body image problems and false beauty standards.
Instagram has chosen an interesting way to battle this. They released a feature called ‘guides’, which focuses on battling the adverse effects of the platform. While this may be a good move, is this the most effective one?
Since Instagram is a platform for the people, by the people, it has left it to users to run the new feature (guides) in a way that helps mental health. While Instagram has provided the resources, it is totally up to the creators on this platform to utilise it. People on social media in 2020 are of several kinds and leaving such an important aspect of well-being in the hands of the people is a questionable decision. While guides is a good add, it is high time Instagram as a company takes some measures themselves that add to bettering the mental health of people.
TikTok is objectively bad, irrespective of the good content that there may be on it. After the recent data-mining allegations and banning of it in India, only more bad things are resurfacing about this app.
Even as a company, TikTok has done some questionable things (tw: suicide). It is constantly seen to be pushing pornographic or violent content to children. In addition, the community guidelines for this app are very fluid. There are many ways to misuse the app while staying in line according to the community guidelines.
It is safe to say that staying off TikTok for the most part in this age is the best choice for our mental health. If TikTok comes up with a foolproof plan to battle all the bad actions that are happening on it, we can consider using it again.
People and Social Media in 2020
In these challenging times, the entire world is limited to sitting inside their homes facing a global pandemic technology. In this event, internet connections and social media websites have made our lives relatively easy. Professionals are working from home, students are taking online classes, and old friends are finding more time to reconnect. As a lot of experts have predicted, this will be the new normal, but can we really adapt to this new normal and utilize these resources properly and effectively?
The Ambiguity of Usage
Because of the variety of users that engage in social media, it is really difficult to determine a behavioural pattern for a platform. However, we can make a generalised conclusion for age groups.
Since the children who are now in the age range of 10-15 grew up with social media, they are more active on these platforms. The global pandemic that has emerged in the prime of their youth is also forcing them to look for other forms of entertainment instead of outdoor activities.
That being said, a young mind is not capable of handling the repercussions of any bad event that they may accidentally become a part of, on social media. Children do not understand the concept of consequences and accountability, since they’re still growing. Additionally, social media distracts and hinders young nurturing minds.
As for older age groups, it is easier to hold them accountable to their actions if they do end up abusing the platform they work on. For example, YouTube is one of the most community-oriented platforms that have always held its creators accountable for actions such as racism, misconduct, pandering and lies. However, this gets difficult when the creator in question is a minor (the case of Danielle Cohn).
Social Media in 2020 is its People
All in all, social media is like a weighing scale with its two balanced sides. How we wish for that weighing scale to tip is up to us. Sadly, is has been favouring the negative side for a while now. Hence, we should be the change. We should make use of it carefully and ethically creating a healthy balance among the real and virtual world.