Cross Currents: Is social media a force for good?

The Channels Opinion Pages | CROSS CURRENTS

Illustration+by+Alloy+Zarate%2C+2020

Alloy Zarate

Illustration by Alloy Zarate, 2020

Bianca Ascencio and Kiki Reyes

Social media has taken the world by storm, it’s everywhere. Many use social media as a tool to help build their businesses, stay connected with friends and family or discover new ideas to enrich their lives. However, social media’s dark side has the potential to give misinformation, inflict mental and physical diseases on its users and spread divisive content. That’s why The Channels asks, is social media a force for good?

 

Bianca Ascencio, Associate Editor

Growing up I never really was able to see myself represented on the tv or really anywhere. With social media, I am able to find influencers who I feel connected with, be it the way they look, their job or even just their fun vlogs. I have been able to make some of the best friendships to date thanks to Twitter. 

“While virtual interaction on social media doesn’t have the same psychological benefits as face-to-face contact, there are still many positive ways in which it can help you stay connected and support your wellbeing.” This is stated on HelpGuide, which I completely agree with. 

While I can’t see my friends in St. Louis and Florida as often as I like, I am able to talk with them almost every day through online interactions.

I have built and joined many online communities that enjoy baseball, have the same music tastes and even share a passion for writing.

I am also able to keep up with family and friends who are not close by. With the last 18 months being apart, it makes it seem like we aren’t as far.

While I am on social media roughly four hours a day, I know to never let it get to me and my mental health. Sometimes I even use it to my advantage, by seeing how others deal with their mental health.

Social media has normalized this topic and reduced the stigma on mental health by acting as a platform for people to communicate their struggles and find assistance.

Social media does get its flak from those who point out all of the negatives on it. While I have yet to take anything said to me on social media seriously, I don’t think people should put the massive amount of hate on it when it actually does help others.

Social media creates new jobs for people.  It’s now common for sports teams, television shows, etc. to have a social media team in charge of posting and managing the various platforms.

Social media has the potential to do much more good than bad.

 

Kiki Reyes, Associate Editor

People do anything for a “like,” it’s validation. It’s acceptance. It’s addicting. And it’s changing our brain chemistry.

Giant tech companies had good intentions when they first started social media, pioneering the concept of “social networking.” 

However, the more popular posting became, the more profits companies were able to make in exchange for our misery and fear of missing out. 

According to Frances Haugen, a Facebook whistleblower and former data scientist, the company has consistently shown “it chooses profit over safety.”

During her testimony before a Senate subcommittee this past Tuesday, Haugen mentioned the toxicity that Instagram has had on young girls’ mental and physical health. It takes away their aptitude to empathize with others and superimposes standards of beauty that aren’t realistic and hard to attain. Haugen urged the Senate to regulate these companies.

Strangely enough, people know this and continue to feed into it, despite how harmful it is to our mental health.

Thanks to mindless celebrities and their sponsored posts, people are not only brainwashed into buying products they don’t need but are also manipulated to find flaws within themselves. 

Let’s be honest, Instagram models and celebrities are all photoshopped. Yet, we believe they are perfect which makes us search for validation through our own posts. 

Jaron Lanier, author of “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now,” discusses his concern with our unhealthy obsession with social media, specifically with validation. According to Lanier, the neurological process in regard to addiction is something that we don’t understand.

The neurotransmitter dopamine plays a role in pleasure and is thought to be central to the mechanism of behavior change in response to getting rewards. Behavior modification, especially the modern kind implemented with gadgets like smartphones, is a statistical effect, meaning it’s real but not comprehensively reliable,” Lanier writes. 

Whenever there’s a “like” or a “comment” we feel as if we’re getting rewarded, but it’s not real. 

Yes, there is an occasional funny viral video or meme to take our minds off of things. Remember, social media makes money off you, especially when you’re at your lowest.

So why not put the phone down for a bit and enjoy the moment without the need to record.