How social media affects people’s lives?

This question was asked on the site www.dabate.org and the results were impressive- 92% of people consider that social media has an impact on their lives. They comment that people “use it more instead of socializing with people in front of them” and “online everybody wants to be that estrange model and to be the coolest, most successful person on their newsfeed.” But why exactly do we act differently on social platforms like Facebook? And moreover, how does it how affect our mental health and well-being?

To begin with, all of us play many various roles, and behave differently in different social settings. Of course, that doesn’t mean that one of these roles is “true” while the others are false, instead we see different aspects of the same person in different situations. For example, a man acts a certain way while he is home- he is a loving and caring dad, and probably calm. On the other hand, at the office he is a completely different person- serious, professional and always in a hurry. “Most of the time people are behaving in ways that are natural for them, under the given circumstances.” However, sometimes people are not 100% honest in their Facebook posts. They usually post positive messages and photos where they are smiling and this creates the fake feeling that they are happy all the time. An interesting research from Utah reveals that users who didn’t know their Facebook friends face-to-face believed that “others had better lives” which led to lower self-esteem. In comparison, people who communicate with their relatives or close friends are known to have an elevated self-esteem according to Wilcox and Stephen’s study.

Social media impacts especially on lives of teenagers. “The adoption of the mobile phone by young people has been a global phenomenon in recent years. It is now an integral part of adolescents’ daily lives and is for the majority, the most popular form of electronic communication. In fact, the mobile phone has turned from a technological tool to a social tool.” states Marilyn Campbell in her article The impact of the mobile phone on young people’s social life. The article was published in 2005. Now, 10 years later it is proved that 60% of 13 to 19-year-olds admit to being “highly addicted” to their iPhones. Social media’s main advantage is that it unites people from different backgrounds, schools, countries. Everything could be found on the Internet: useful and not so useful information. As follows: imagine that a 13 year-old kid makes a Facebook account. Yes, it will be awesome because he will be able to communicate with his schoolmates but also, he will be exposed to the entire inappropriate content people share on their ‘walls’. Not only bad language but pornographic content as well. So after spending a few minutes evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of social media, which are more?

And why do we leave all task to our phones and computers. It’s not that it’s hard to do it b ourselves , it’s just that we have become so addicted to our devices that we don’t even consider the option of us doing things alone. Would you say that it is complicated to go to your friend’s house and enjoy a good old-fashioned conversation. Is it complicated to walk 5 minutes to the supermarket and do the shopping or calculate 12×23 by urselves. Of course not. But despite that we prefer our phone or computer to do. Not because it hard, just because it is one click away.

This post will have no conclusion. Instead, I will quote Gary Turk and let you answer the question for yourself:

“Are we a generation of idiots, smart phones and dumb people?’’


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Nice to meet you. Can I add you on Facebook?

Okay, so you are at your friend’s party and you just met this awesome guy. You are having a great time until you go home and check your Facebook account. That’s right, not only he added you as a friend but he has already liked 12 of your photos and commented on half of them. Creepy. Or is it?

According to the Urban Dictionary Facebook stalking means “a covert method of investigation using facebook.com. Good for discovering a wealth of information about people you don’t actually know”.

It seems strange that nowadays it’s normal when you meet someone for the first time to get his Facebook and send him a request. Back in the days, people used to exchange their phone numbers or e-mails. I guess technology has changed it all. Stalking is indeed a problem for a lot of people who are trying to overcome a past relationship or partner. James Hambrick, PhD, a therapist at the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders, explains that people facing this problem have the idea of, ‘If I keep thinking about this person from different angles, if I keep taking in information about them, then I don’t get upset that they aren’t in my life anymore. Because in certain sense, they are.” You can get so much information from someone’s Facebook wall- their new possessions, favorite food or music, where they are at the moment and many more. Also, it can be a miserable and misleading experience. A lot of people are actually lying on social media to increase their profile. For instance, they might be chilling in their bed and in the same time tagging themselves in the newest night club. Occasionally, this can make us feel like our friends are more successful than us, which usually is just a delusion. Here is a funny song with reference to that:

In conclusion, for whatever reason you stalk someone, make sure it doesn’t take all of your time and it’s not harmful for you, your mental health and the other person. It would actually be more helpful if you go on a date with you crush and get the information first hand rather than checking his ‘wall’ 20 times a day.

As Ph.D. Susan Weinschenk states in her book 100 Things: Every Designer Needs to Know about People, after all we are by nature social animals. And even though online interactions are considered social interactions, real life communication is always the better option.


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Connected, but alone?

In 2011 Sherry Turkle, who has done research on psychoanalysis and human-technology interaction published the book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other.  In it she suggests that “we’re getting used to a new way of being alone together. We are designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.” How technologies and social media have changed the way we interact with friends? How do we tend to find friends? And are all of the 500 people we have on our Facebook friend list really our friends?

Yes, technology’s main purpose is to unite humans but turns out that in fact it makes us feel lonelier. Years ago people used to find friends in school, university, their workplace or simply on the street. Today, apps like JoinU, Skout and Meetup exist. These new technologies help people to connect with random people located nearby. Of course, the most common way of finding new companions is Facebook. Almost everyone has an account and it is extremely easy to approach someone. All you have to do is send a friend request or a message. Like every other communication, after a while people become close to each other even if they’ve never met in real life and consider each other friends. One by one people pile up hundreds of new contacts and in the end they don’t really make a difference between a real and an online friend. Interacting in social media can cause problems for adolescent who need to develop face-to-face relationships, for instance. We live in times when children aged 6 possess an iPhone, tablet and/or a computer. They find it hard to communicate with other kids in real life because they prefer to spend their time on the phone or chatting online. Another way in which technology puts obstacles in conversing with mates is when they have finally met and everybody is on their phones non-stop. Seems like teenagers are scared to talk face-to-face because there is no edit button; they cannot delete what they’ve said. While online they can present the self that they want to be- pretty, intelligent, generally better than what they really are. There is a huge amount of videos talking about the overuse of phones. I decided to showcase this one, it is called “Look up” and has over 50 million views on Youtube. In my opinion the video presents life very accurately and will make every person stop for a minute and think. My favorite part is when he says:

“When you’re too busy looking down, you don’t see the chances you miss. So don’t get into life where you follow the hype, give people your love, don’t give them your like. Look up from your phone, shut down those displays, live life the real way.”


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I’m so bored. *logs in to Facebook* = why do we really go online?

September 2014:

71% of online adults use Facebook

23% of online adults use Twitter

26% use Instagram

28% use Pinterest

28% use LinkedIn

These results are based on American adults who use the internet. 52% of online adults now use two or more social media sites, a significant increase from 2013, when it stood at 42% of internet users.

Of course, number one reason for going online is communicating with family and friends. Words can’t explain how easy it is nowadays to connect with people living thousand miles away just by clicking a button. It is also extremely useful for parents who have sent their children to study abroad. There was a recent article I read in a Bulgarian newspaper called “Skype moms, Viber dads”. It talks about the new tendency of “skype parents” whose children study and live far away from home. The topic if particularly close to me as I identify as one of these students. Truth is, that it almost feels like home when I speak with my family online. I can video call them and forget that I live in another country for an hour. After that, I log out of skype and log in to Facebook. Why? To chat with friends or make new ones. And it’s not only me. According to BBC 1 in 3 teenagers meet social media ‘friends’ in real life. They share that they feel happier online than in real life and their online friends know them better.

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Although, the purpose of social media is meeting new people and making friends, you can never be sure who you meet online and cannot verify the identity behind the account. As Dr Emma Short, a psychologist at the University of Bedfordshire comments “Although we create and maintain our friendships online in a very real way, it is not safe to assume that strangers we meet online are anything other than strangers.”

With the existence of sites like Youtube, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, it is not surprising that many people go online to showcase their creativity or talents. That can be anything from DIY (do it yourself), videos, photographs, paintings, etc. Some people do it because it’s fun, others to gather feedback, third with the secret desire of someone noticing them. Celebrities like Justin Beiber, Kate Upton, Kim Kardashian or Carly Rae Jepsen were discovered through Youtube and have successful careers now, so why wouldn’t I? they ask themselves. But is it necessary someone to recognize you? Today, being a youtuber is a career that mostly young people have. One of the most famous Youtube stars Piewdiepie is a 25 years old game vlogger and has over 35 million subscribers on his channel. It is suggested that he makes around 4 million $ a year, which is not bad for a home based job.


As it can be seen, the cover of the blog is a quote from the Charles Bukowski’s poem “Alone with everybody” that says: “nobody ever finds the one”. So I added: “but keeps looking… online”, because this is today’s reality. Here is an interesting statistics: “At this moment, 33% of couples have met online. By 2040 this number will rise to 70%.” Dating sites are designed to be easily accessible, even for people without a lot of computer skills. They look like a catalogue to me- thousands of profile pictures with descriptions praising their owner. Individuals can choose their dream partner’s age, height, location, race, basically everything. All someone has to do to is create a profile, upload a few photos and add information about himself. It is that easy.

Follow the blog for the next post, where dating sites will be discussed in more details.


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When did communication between people change?

Many people cannot believe that it has been only 11 years since Facebook was founded. Many people cannot imagine life without social media and wonder how people were able to communicate before it was created. In this first blog, I am going to examine the development and evolution of social media and also provide some interesting statistics.

nnAs Wikipedia suggest, Facebook is an online social networking service that was launched in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and his college roommates. It was initially created to facilitate communication between Harvard students. Since 2006, the site has become accessible by anyone who is at least 13 years old. According to Forbes, the real time net worth of Facebook is $36.1 Billion. It is definitely the most preferred and used social networking site ever created. Now it has more than 1.23 billion users and I believe that this number speaks for itself. Of course, there were other instant message programs developed prior to Facebook like ICQ which was released in 1996 and was quite popular for its time.

The beginning of the 21st century brought big development in social media as in 2002 the site Friendster was launched. It allowed people to register and create their own profile, add friends, create and share online content and media as well. By that time it had over 90 million registered users and 90% of its traffic came from Asia. Today, the site has been redesign and transformed into a social gamming site.

Moving forward in time, 2003 was the year when both LinkedIn and MySpace were released.  Besides that, Skype as a telecommunications application software product was launched in the same year having great success. It has 300 million users and almost 5 million daily active ones.

2 years later, or exactly 10 years ago, the video platform Youtube was introduced to the public. According to the site it has more than 1 billion users and 300 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute. This site is huge and it is not only used for sharing video content, but for advertising as well. Statistics suggests that more than a million advertisers are using Google ad platforms.

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Lastly, I will mention the development of Twitter in 2006. The mission of this site is “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” And without a doubt, the site manages to do that for all of its 288 million monthly active users who send 500 million Tweets per day.

Now, having read this entire information, people may question their perception of time because it really has been only slightly over 10 years since all these sites were launched. Communication has evolved enormously over that period. Nowadays, people will stare at someone who doesn’t have a Facebook account and that may even decrease this person’s chances for further communication. The truth is that social media has taken over human lives in any aspect- they feel the need to update their status every day, upload new videos and pictures of themselves, what they are eating and places they visit. Next blogs will refer to people’s motivation of going online and how the social media has changed the way we converse with family, friends, colleagues and total strangers. Moreover, some of the risks of going online will be examined and solutions for avoiding them will be provided.


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