Six Horrible Problems with Social Media That Most People Haven’t Grasped Yet
Like Kim Kardashian or binge drinking, social media is both wonderful AND horrible. On the one hand, social media has given us all a chance to connect and look at pictures of what we’re doing. Right this second. All the TIME. On the other hand…
1. It’s changing us all into brands
Do you trust commercials for KFC and McDonald’s? Of course you don’t because you know they’re trying to sell you something. That beautiful fried chicken in the ad? It’s soggy in real life. That plump, juicy Big Mac? It’s not the most delicious thing you’ve ever eaten and there won’t be a magical clown there to be your friend while you’re wolfing it down.
So, what happens when the average person becomes a brand?
At its most innocuous, we get a false picture of everyone’s life. If you look at my Facebook pictures, they’re all of me traveling. I’m at the Eiffel Tower. Here’s me decked out with my hot ex-girlfriend at the Empire State Building. Woah, there’s me with Alcatraz in the background. You don’t see me right now — without a shower, wearing sweats and a t-shirt in a messy room, grinding out this column while my ex-girlfriend is probably plotting to murder me (just kidding, hahahah – well, as far as you know).
It has also led to an epidemic of virtue signaling, so we yell at the right people, conspicuously support the right causes, and want to be seen doing the right things. It’s turned authenticity from something most people used to have into something a few people are good at portraying. Fake isn’t better.
2. It’s destroying attention spans and making us shallow
How many people are living life through their social media instead of the real world? It’s so bizarre to see people facing away from the action to get a selfie or ignoring their friends or dates to check Twitter. It’s rude to look at your cell phone when you’re at dinner with someone, but we pretend like it’s not because we all do it at one time or another. But, if you can’t make it through a twenty-minute conversation without checking the beeps, whizzes, and bings coming from your phone, you have a problem. Sadly, most people have that problem. They have a phone full of social media apps designed by people who were paid large amounts of money because they know how to get your attention. Sitting down to work, reading a book, or doing almost anything for a few hours straight is nearly impossible for many people not just because there is always some "like," retweet or new message to see, but because we have gotten used to consuming information in tiny, entertaining chunks. There are a lot of things in life that can’t be summed up in 140 characters or in a Facebook meme and unfortunately, if it doesn’t work for social media, many publications have simply given up on publishing it at all. We may be getting more information than ever before because of social media, but most of it is snark, memes, or dumb comments instead of the longer, more in-depth material we need to become wiser.