Currently, we are living in the era of social media. So social media is toxic, debating the merits and demerits of using social media should not come as a surprise. Most of the people on the planet are associated with social media in some form or other.
Social media is an online platform where people come together to share photos, videos, files, etc. All the sharing is done in real-time. There are a lot of popular social media options, like Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, etc.
That one feature that makes social media so fascinating is that censorship is limited to social media compared to the mainstream media. Brands that hesitated to promote their products on the mainstream media are now thriving on social media.
Social media has done a lot of things in the world, such as the Arab Spring. Social media has brought revolutions in countries like Egypt and The US. Then what is so bad about social media? Then why do people say social media is toxic?
Why Do People Say Social Media Is Toxic?
You need to understand here that social media in itself is not bad and is used by millions of people to get things done. It has made lives a lot easier. You can text and call on Facebook messenger and contact your loved one living a thousand miles away in some other country for free instead of spending a hundred bucks on International calling.
Suppose you missed a very important class at college. Your friends can use social media to send you pictures of the notes taken in the lecture. You don’t have to wait for the next day to see him and ask for the notes in person. Social media has made the world timeless. Then why do people say social media is toxic?
Let’s Find Out Why People Say Social Media Is Toxic
Now let us look at some of the demerits of social media, which led people to claim that social media is toxic. Everything in this world has a flip side to it, and social media is no different.
- Breach of Privacy
Unless you are living on an island or under a rock, you must be knowing that the CEO and co-founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, had been summoned quite a number of times by the US Congress to explain how Facebook deals with the privacy of the users.
Yes, you are right. I’m talking about the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Cambridge Analytica had allegedly bought thousands of Americans’ data to build a war tool that was meant to be psychological. Later it was found to be accurate, and Mark Zuckerberg was summoned to the US Congress house to give a statement.
From that day, people started worrying about their privacy on Facebook, which is the biggest and the most popular social media on the face of Earth cannot be trusted. The thing is, most people do not realize the value of their data.
Little do they know that they are sold to third-party companies with the highest bidders. The third-party companies can use their data to do anything they want; usually, they sell it to telemarketing companies.
The fact of the matter is if you are on Facebook or any other social media platform; for that matter, your privacy is gone! And when something gets uploaded on the Internet, it stays on the Internet forever.
This is what leads people to think social media is toxic. So be careful before uploading any picture or sharing any important information about yourself on Facebook.
- Less Socializing And More Marketing
The reason why social media is toxic is that it has become a market place instead of people sharing their thoughts and other important things. Brands and other large business organizations have made it a platform where they can market and sell their products.
Just have a look at what Facebook is doing. Facebook bought Instagram and Whatsapp. Previously Instagram and Whatsapp were quite secure places, but after the acquisition by Facebook, they are slowly turning into market places. Facebook already has Instagram marketing and now let’s wait and see what WhatsApp turns out.
Also, a thing to note here is that the founder of Instagram and Whatsapp left their respective companies shortly after it was bought by Facebook. And can you guess the reason? Well, there are two reasons; both the reasons are different for both the apps.
The founders of Instagram quit because they were not happy with the way Facebook controlled the app, and the founder of Whatsapp Jan Koum left because he felt that there could be privacy issues on Whatsapp after Facebook’s acquisition.
- The Declining Mental Health Of People
This is the issue I want to focus on when I say social media is toxic. Tons of research studies have shown that the use of social media is directly linked to poor mental health. I bet you will agree with me that the number of likes, comments, or shares your post gets affects you in some way or the other.
According to the American Journal of Epidemiology reports, more time on social media was directly linked with poor mental health. The University of Copenhagen formed a new word called ‘Facebook eny’; it means that seeing the activities of peers, colleagues on social media create feelings of jealousy in a person.
Young adults and teenagers do not understand that what they see on Facebook is in no way a projection of their lives. It is just a ‘perfect picture.’ Nobody knows what goes on behind the scenes and what time attempts were made to create the ‘perfect picture.’
Teenagers jump to a conclusion without having enough data or evidence behind a person’s post and later claim social media is toxic. In my opinion, proper training should be given at the school level using social media wisely.
In these times, people, especially young adults and teenagers, use Facebook as a form of escapism. They are busy judging and comparing themselves to others.
- You Are A Product On Facebook
As the famous saying goes, “If you are not paying for the product, you are the product.” This is true when it comes to social media marketing and the main reason why social media is toxic. We are all products on social media. They sell your information to marketers for thousands of dollars. Do you ever wonder why Facebook is free?
You don’t pay a premium subscription fee for its membership, then how come it free? It is free because you are the product and the clients are the third party companies to which your valuable data is sold.
How To Have A Control Over Social Media Toxicity?
This is one of the most tough questions ever to answer. Social media, without a hint of doubt, is one of the most toxic places you can ever become a part of. However, in the era of digitization, and because of people’s fear of missing out, there is no way that you can stay away from social media ever.
However, you can have a control over how much you let that toxicity affect you. Yes, there is indeed a way you can bypass all of the stuffs that are completely unnecessary and does nothing good for your well being on social media.
So, let us now go through some of the ways by which you can avoid the breeding toxicity on social media platforms.
Just Keep Scrolling
On a normal day on, you may be happily scrolling through your social media platform, giggling and laughing at the content, and suddenly, you just come across something really offensive. Something that just boils your blood. You get this tremendous urge to write or say something. Maybe you just want to write a big paragraph about how offended you are or perhaps something nasty. But is it really worth it? You may even forget it in a day or two. So, there is no point in dragging it for no reason.
Do Not Argue
Not everyone on your social media will have the same mentality or the same opinions. Even if you do understand this part, it is not necessary that others will. So, is there any point in engaging with in a conversation with someone who would never understand what you are trying to say? The meaningless arguments would just affect your calm and make you go through a really bad day.
Block, Unfollow, Or Unfriend
Life is too short to deal with stupid people. If you feel like someone is not matching your vibes, just block them. And if you do not wish to take it that far, just unfriend or unfollow them. This is my go to mantra for surviving on social media. There is nothing more satisfying than blocking someone who was constantly getting on your nerves, that too, right when they were typing. You really do not have to think about what the other person is going to feel. As long as you are feeling good by throwing them out of your life, it is all that matters.
All in all, social media is toxic. The benefits that social media like Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Twitter, Telegram, Snapchat provide simply outweigh its demerits. The Privacy issue being the biggest one. Not to forget the impact social media has on the mental health of people. It is making people lonelier than ever before.