When Social Media Stopped Being Social
It used to be all fun and games, but now it’s not
In the beginning, it was all fun and games, joining one of the many new social media sites and instantly connecting with your old friends and making new friends.
It was fun seeing how fast we could message each other, share photos and videos, get informed about what’s happening around the world, and meet people who share the same interests and respond to our sarcasm with funnier sarcasm.
Fast-forward, the social media we hoped would be our virtual community of socializing has turned into something else. We now live in fear, we detest it, and we are finding ways of breaking the addictions that have affected us.
We are no longer proud that we are on social media, we fear for our lives, our mental health, our emotions, our sexuality and above all, our privacy.
In recent times, the ugly side of social media platforms has revealed itself.
The thirst for glory by the big players in social media has been exposed in the past few years and this is making people have second thoughts. The current face of social networks generates more fatigue, apathy, concerns and more frustration for users.
Reports show how Facebook, Google, and the like have used their influence to manipulate users’ data for their selfish gain and even with the laws that have been brought, they continue to have so much influence and power.
This is simply because they have amassed billions of dollars and get hungrier for more glory and dominance.
From Facebook’s sky-rocketing fake news and widespread dissent during the Cambridge Analytica saga to third-party social media platforms continuing to pay millions for users’ data, the impact on the credibility of social media and the overall trust in the Internet continues to dwindle and continues to be an unsafe space.
It Became About Money
Every click or scroll you seem to make on social media today, it’s an ad here, an ad there, an ad up and another ad down. Social media is more bloated with ads, and even in the personal posts you see on social media, chances are someone is trying to sell you something whether you want it or not.
Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram are all turning into marketplaces.
There’s less organic content that isn’t trying to sell you something, and the makers seem to be okay with that as long as it brings in the bucks for them. The platforms have become more about quantity and commercialization than a place to connect with friends and family.
“In many ways, social media died when it stopped being social and became about making money, when we stopped being users and became products.” — Enrique Dans
We Were Robbed of Our Privacy
Remember when you were told that ‘if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product’? Well, that is happening with social media. Although most social media platforms are free to join and to use, they are not entirely as free as they’re portrayed.
There is a price we are all paying and we are doing so by unknowingly giving the makers of these platforms access to troves of our data when we use their applications.
Companies that deal with data are willing to pay millions of dollars to get their hands on this data mined by social media applications and it’s being sold to the highest bidder without the knowledge of the owners. The large amounts of data that is collected every minute from users present a new avenue for collecting more revenue.
This has continued to flourish because most social media users don’t understand the value of their personal data and are illiterate about it, so it’s become more common to accidentally expose themselves to malicious activity out of gullibility.
A Toxic Environment
Social media today has continued to brew toxicity and it has turned out to be an unsafe place for some people. The kind of content that has continued to find its way online is too sensationalized and is increasingly damaging healthy relationships.
Most people online are seeking cheap popularity and attention and are no longer remorseful nor sensitive about the kind of information they put out and whoever it hurts.
The urge to be the first to share information, to get the most likes, or get the most followers have made people heartless on social media and they’ve perpetuated the spread of fake news and propaganda.
Social media platforms have allowed the spread of hate speech, facilitated terrorism, and have caused depression and interest, and the owners don’t seem to care about the ugly impact that it has brought. Because of this, many people don’t feel safe anymore on social media.
Some have deactivated their accounts, while for some, the worst has happened — they’ve committed suicide.
This toxic environment made it even worse when extremist politicians in Myanmar contributed to the genocide of the Rohingya people after horrific messages were spewed online.
This attention-seeking behavior has left people vulnerable to dangerous propaganda and influence campaigns.
With social media came a disruption that we were once glad and excited about—until we woke up to a number of issues we were never prepared for. Now we’re stuck with most of these applications and a dangerous addiction to them.
However, all is not entirely ugly with social media, but a lot needs to be done. Most importantly, we need to start building social media to care about construction, not just about disruption, and go back to the basics. We need to bring back the social in social media.