4 Social Media Problems People Will Face in The Next Decades
Today, our kids navigate a smartphone and social media with such ease that it would put an accomplished CEO to shame.
Children and teenagers today will never know an era without social media and connected devices. Facebook’s user base seems to be getting younger with every passing day – it is now hardly a surprise when you receive a friend request from your 13 year old cousin!
We have reached a stage where we are allowing tech and social media to raise the younger generation. But have any of us paused to wonder if this is the right directions?
Do we know exactly what problems can arise because of this approach?
It can affect the formation of a person’s identity
Our identity defines us. It allows us to understand what type of person we are and answers the fundamental question, “Who am I?”
Every person’s identity is built during the early stages of their lives and and they connect with the social interactions that occur during the said stages. For the current generation though, the majority of these interactions happen through online social media platforms.
Belonging to a group is a significant step, especially at a point where a person is developing their own identity. Their identity builds up based on this difference. A person wants to emphasize what he is and what he is not, how he differs to the others and accepting others. The absence of real life interaction can impede this growth.
Furthermore, pictures play an important role on social media and people will learn to change themselves for the picture and quite significantly, with the picture. Imagine when someone grabs the camera for a quick picture, we instinctively fix our hair, laugh at a joke no one told or put on a more serious expression. Think about how social media propogates not only looking good for photos, but perfecting your ability to judge others from their photos.
The future generations will begin to build up their self-image using the feedback they receive on these images. They will remember the comments of others and if they liked the picture or not. They will pour attention into looking at how other people view them through these images and this can affect a person during the years that they are discovering their identity.
The importance of image is Social media’s biggest problem
Anyone familiar with Greek mythology knows the story of Narcissus; a young hunter who fell in love with his own image when he tried to drink water from the lake.
Today’s youth are growing up in a world that is being constantly influenced by media, especially images. Social media accounts must always be up to date with where they are and what they are doing.
I think we can go as far as to say that Facebook will become the metaphorical mirror in this scenario; turning young growing people into narcissists.
Let’s look at it this way. Narcissists look to others for validation of their self-esteem. Is there any better way to do that than through social media? Sites like Facebook and Twitter allow you to share images, videos, and thoughts in a few seconds where your friends and followers can agree, disagree or compliment you; giving a narcissist the validation he or she needs.
People will begin to give more importance to their online reputation and not their existence. Eating out will be more about taking a picture of your food and sharing it online and not actually tasting the meal. On the same vein, visiting an attraction means the chance to take a picture of it is more for the internet than admiring it.
Social media problems with Online consumerism will bring more issues
There is no denying that the internet is a powerful tool that gives us a ton of useful information from all around the globe. However, while that was meant to be one of the best things about it, the recent smartphone boom and popularity of apps means that information has been filtered over the last few years.
At the end of the day, search engines and mobile applications are developed to succeed. We live in a capitalist system where success translates to profit – companies that hold a monopoly over information think about how much money they can make, not about how much information can be shared and how the world could be made a more socially aware place. Furthermore, it will become easy to pay these companies to filter certain important information, be biased or hide revealing facts about people and corporations.
Another concern of social media is the privacy implications. We are being conditioned to upload pictures, videos, our current location and other private details freely on social media, but how do we know that this data is not being mishandled?
For the past decade, we have seen several instances of robbers using social media to figure out when homeowners leave for vacation; this allowed the robbers to rob the house during their absence. Issues like that are only going to get bigger.
Additionally, a key work-related problem with social media is that companies are increasingly using it to judge potential employees and get a better look at them. The things we post for fun such as our night-outs and binge drinking sessions might end up costing us a great job in the future. There is no law preventing this from happening, although it has stirred up many fierce debates on equality and neutrality of the hiring process. On the other end of the scale, it will be normal to fire employees due to their social media posts or activity, although this has the potential to turn into a legal issue.
This current moment in human history is arguably one of the more decisive moments for our species. The path we take from here and how we allow technology to influence us will shape our future generations. It is always a good idea to keep in mind Albert Einstein’s foreboding prediction. “I fear the day when technology overlaps with our humanity. The world will only have a generation of idiots.”