Increased reliance on social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter leads to detrimental impacts on consumer behaviour.
Many young people are affected as they make up the largest number of social media users.
The first consequence of social media is heightened social problems such as social discrimination, trauma, toxic peer control, distress, paranoia, and social phobia.
The second result is cyberbullying, which entails posting messages to other social media users with a view to insulting or harassing them.
The final impact is false impression/false identity. Understanding the impact of social media on human behavior can help to regulate its use and promote a positive lifestyle.
Social media users have a high chance of developing social disorders. The first type is Social Anxiety Disorder, which causes inferiority, self-consciousness, and poor judgments, which prevent them from interacting with others. Addiction to social media is the major factor that leads to social disorders.
Social media has many forums people can join and share their ideas. As the dependence increases, people become more emotionally attached to the information, which can also make them develop negative thoughts.
Besides, many users find it easy to connect with others virtually through the social networks. It is easy for people to share their feelings with the friends acquired on either Twitter or Facebook. However, when it comes to real life, where people meet with other physically, it becomes difficult to develop positive interactions (Foer). Social media users tend to believe that other people will judge them negatively, so they fear to talk to them.
Another social disorder is inferiority and a low self-esteem, which results from body dysmorphia and fear of failure. Many people post pictures showing their success in body beauty, work, wealth, social status, and their general lifestyle. Such content makes other people feel less successful and becomes inferior. The same inferiority extends to real life whereby social media fanatics feel they are less successful compared to other people.
Another social disorder is social prejudice, whereby people discriminate against others due to their social positions. Furthermore, social media increases negative peer pressure. For instance, online users try to imitate the lifestyle of their friends on social media. The result is a failed social society characterized by unnecessary competition, negative attitudes towards each other, and poor morals.
Social media has become a commonly-used tool to perpetuate cyberbullying. Facebook is the leading social network in promoting cyberbullying, which affects many teenagers. Bullying on social media occurs in many forms. Typical examples include commenting negatively on uploaded pictures, posting abusive words on other people's walls, joking about other people using funny or weird videos, and stalking social media users (Kowalski, Limber & Agatston 57).
Cyberbullying involves discriminating against other users based on their gender, social status, ethnicity, race, political affiliation, and religion. Cyberstalking is another form of bullying and involves hacking other users' accounts to monitor their activities. Stalkers intrude into the privacy of social media users and acquire their confidential information, which they can even share with the public.
Cyberbullying has negative effects on young people. It leads to depression, fear, anger, and anxiety. Besides, bullying lowers self-esteem leading to alcoholism and drug abuse. The psychological effects of cyberbullying can contribute to a poor health state. Many famous people have fallen victims of cyberbullying. For example, Richard Bacon, a presenter at BBC News, and Charlotte Dawson, a top model in Australia.
False Impression/False Identity
Social media makes people fake their identity and the kind of lifestyle they lead. Most of the users try to create a perfect life to show their successful life (Wallace 30). For instance, it is common for young people to update their status to show they study in some of the world-class universities, come from affluent backgrounds, have a high social status, and enjoy support from many friends on social media.
In reality, the people who post such information have an average lifestyle. Their interest is only to attract attention from many people, who probably like or comment positively on the posted pictures and videos. Another area in which many users create a false impression is relationships. People post photos of their lovers on Instagram to show the world how they are happy or their relationship is successful. Many people fall into these tricks by believing that other people have blissful relationships characterized by smiles always. The truth is that all relationships encounter challenges and the images posted hide the painful moments couples experience, especially if they are celebrities.
Furthermore, social media makes people have a fake body image. Women, mostly, try to copy the images posted on social media by their friends. Some even seek cosmetic surgery to have the desired body size and shape. Developing a false identity has an impact on the social and physical life of young people. For instance, when people fail to live their life according to the posts made on social media, they decide to isolate themselves from other people. Other people continue to spend their small salaries on maintaining a perfect life just to impress others. These people find it difficult to progress positively in their lives.
In conclusion, social media has negative impacts on human behaviors. Many people develop social disorders due to addiction to social media. Examples include Social Anxiety Disorders, inferiority, social prejudices anxiety, fear, and negative peer pressure. Social disorders make it difficult for social media users to interact comfortably with other people. Social media also leads to cyberbullying. Some people attack other users by commenting negatively on their pictures, mocking them with funny videos, and posting abusive words on their walls. Cyberbullying promotes discrimination based on race, gender, social status, and religion. Finally, social media makes people develop a false identity. For instance, many users pretend to lead a successful life characterized by healthy relationships, perfect body image, and wealth. In reality, the content posted on social media only aims to attract the attention of many users. Unfortunately, some of these behaviors escalate to abuse of drugs and alcohol, isolation, and a low self-esteem.
- Foer, Jonathan. "Opinion | How Not To Be Alone". Nytimes.Com, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/opinion/sunday/how-not-to-be-alone.html.
- Kowalski, R. M., Limber, S., & Agatston, P. W. (2012). Cyberbullying: Bullying in the digital age. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
- Wallace, Patricia. The psychology of the Internet. Cambridge University Press, 2015.