It is easy to see why social media has become so popular. We can kaypoh what our favourite celebrities are up to, keep in touch with family and friends from all over the world, and even be updated on current social issues! These online channels have even made it easier for like-minded people to find each other and create communities where they can discuss their interests. Furthermore, most humans are social creatures. So, social media channels allow for endless opportunities to connect and interact with different people. Whether you are young or old, you probably would have used social media in one form or another.
However, as with most things in life, too much of a good thing can be bad. Increasingly, people are beginning to witness and experience the downsides of such a hyperconnected world.
The Negative Social Effects of Social Media
One of the most well-known effects of social media is how it can lead to poor mental health for its users. Originally, many social media channels were created to help people remain connected through sharing life updates. However, it seems that it has since evolved into a competition of seeing who has the most friends, who lead the most interesting lives or has the latest gadgets. This has been made even worse when celebrities began using social media channels as well. Repeatedly displaying images of their seemingly perfect lives, celebrities have grown to become an even bigger source of envy for people now.
As most of us are prone to comparing ourselves to others, seeing such images may lead to lower self-esteem if we feel that we do not measure up – especially for young people. In one of HappyDot.sg’s online surveys, it was found that people in the 15-24 years old age range had a lower self-esteem score compared to those aged 25 years and above. (based on 1979 HappyDotters surveyed in February 2018). While this may be due to a variety of factors, social media definitely has a role to play as well.
The increased usage of social media has also led to the emergence of a new phenomenon known as doxxing. This is a cyberbullying tactic whereby someone reveals the personal information of another without their permission. This information can be anything from revealing their home and work addresses to private photographs. Often done with the intention of harassing, threatening, or causing harm to the victim, doxxing can lead to both mental and physical stress. Unfortunately, with so much of our lives being shared online, it is easy for anyone to fall victim to doxxing. As such, doxxing has become a social issue that should be taken seriously by everyone.
What We Can Do
With the many benefits that social media has brought about, we should not feel compelled to stop using it just because of a few bad eggs. Subsequently, there are 2 actions that we can take to effectively reduce its negative effects.
Take Breaks from Social Media
Some of us have probably spent hours scrolling mindlessly through our social media feeds and may end up feeling exhausted. To counteract this, you can create blocks of time where you do not visit these platforms at all. Start small by spending ten minutes every day doing something other than scrolling through the platforms and gradually increase the time as the weeks go by. By spending less time on social media, you won’t be comparing yourself to others as much – subconsciously or not. That can hopefully lead to an improvement in your self-esteem.
Limit What You Share Online
Secondly, we ought to be more proactive in ensuring our data privacy. Limit the amount of identifying information you share online as much as you can. This can mean removing your personal number and addresses from your social accounts and making sure that your social media posts do not reveal too much information. Some people use a virtual private network (VPN) to ensure this as it can effectively hide your private information. By doing this, you can reduce your chances of being doxxed.
More recently, a few laws have been passed, making doxxing a crime. As such, if you happen to see someone being doxxed online or are a victim of it, you can lodge a police report.
The Internet and social media have become so closely intertwined with our lives that many of us find it challenging to live without it. Instead, we can work towards using them in moderation and be mindful of how much time we are spending on social media platforms. Ultimately, by exercising social responsibility in the way we behave online, we can create a safe space for everyone.
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