Social media has certainly had a significant influence on society, the environment, and communication, among other facets of life. While social media has removed connectivity barriers and obstacles, as well as encouraging knowledge sharing and cultural diversity, it has had a negative effect on the lives of many people, especially young people who spend the majority of their time on social media. Social networking is harmful to society because it produces a mistaken persona, cyberbullying, and, ironically, an antisocial climate. By introducing virtual links and partnerships, it has deprived civilization of physical and human fellowship (Giles, 2010). Also, it has eroded the ability of people to think and make independent decisions concerning the groups their join but instead it has made people gullible and vulnerable to making choices without considering their consequences.
To begin with, the prevalence of social media based activities has increased the pressure among people to maintain online profiles that guarantee and promote their presence on social media. This has led to the creation of false identities in order to expand one’s social network and in other circumstances used as a platform where criminal activity is promoted. Social media has over the years been based on perception and the identities portrayed on social media are usual based on environmental and societal influences that do not actually reveal a person’s real identity (Giles 2010).
In fact, social media has created false self-esteem and sense of self because most users find a false esteem booster represented by the numerous fans, likes, posts or comments one may have. Over the years, human interaction was the platform where people would construct their social identity through interpersonal communication and social gatherings (Giles 2010). The ability to create false identity through social media use has led to misconceptions about others and one’s self and has ultimately destroyed the true self of people. Once lost, it may lead to false identity claims or identity crisis because a person’s’ identity is developed over time and not through specific social media activities such as status updates and photo uploads.
Identity crisis is prevalent among peers who depend on social media to present identities to others. The pressure and social confrontation as a result of such dependence has influenced peers to crate false identities that are appealing and acceptable based on judgement by other peers. The reliance of social media to construct and present identities especially by the youth is a threat for the future generations (Jordan 2014). This is because they will grow up to prioritize creating identities based on online presence and external judgement rather than interpersonal skills and dialogues. The type of communication developed from the use of social media usually results in negative opinions, arguments, and unnecessary crude and insensitive remarks especially because the communication is virtual. Eventually, the experiences and the ideals that define people are what they portray online and what others want to hear rather than the true self of a person.
Based on the idea of false identity, social media use has created opportunities where a person may steal or fake an identity and use it to perpetrate theft or fraud more so because it is at times difficulty to verify the identity of a person. Many social media users lack the knowledge and expertise to protect their online security and privacy from other malicious users with ill motive (Giles 2010). Such activities are on the rise due to the growth of e-commerce and online commercial activities such as money transfer among others.
Social media has also encouraged antisocial behaviour among people in society especially the youth. This is because it is addictive and many people lose the ability to control the usage and time spent on social media. As such, many people isolate themselves from others either intentionally or unintentionally because of the virtual false connection crated by social media. Many ignore the importance of building relationships through traditional face to face communication, interpersonal skills and dialogue that convey a person’s emotions, intentions and nonverbal expressions that cannot be conveyed on social media platforms (Jordan 2014). Social media addicts cherish and prioritize artificial bonds created through online interaction erasing their ability to bond intimately with others in society.
Chatting, texting, emailing and online gaming has become addictive and many end up losing touch with their lives and the ability to understand others through human interaction. People addicted to social media spend limited time with friends, parents, relatives and classmates and eventually end up having less friends and relationships with others. Most addicts are solitary and lonely, thus interaction with friends on virtual platforms provides solace and emotional support or satisfaction. Less time spent on socialization reduces a person’s communication skills and command of language (Costabile 2012). This is because the language used on social media is characterized by short forms, incomplete phrases, slang, and acronyms.
Further, antisocial behaviour has also led to low productivity in many companies where employees are addicted to social media and distracted from focusing on their responsibilities at work causing losses in such companies. The antisocial environment created by excessive internet use has led to the prevalence of internet antisocial behaviour such as illegal downloading, addiction to pornography, online gambling and cyber bullying. In addition, the intensity of constant engagement demanded by social media usage may trigger social isolation and depression that promote behaviour such as substance abuse and self-destructive practices (Costabile 2012).
Cyberbullying is a negative internet behaviour that is viewed as a contemporary issue caused by the use of social media, cell phones, and electronic devices prevalent among the youth (Roleff 2012). Through social media, people are able to harass, stalk, impersonate, mock and insult others without their identities being known. Cyber bullies are able to hide behind the veil of anonymity of online activities as well as being able to reach victims without reaching them physically. Young people use social networking sites to post libellous and defaming statements that embarrass and humiliate their fellow peers. The internet and social media sites has provided bullies with interconnectivity that is not limited to space and time and due to such connectivity, victims are unable to escape cyberbullying (Welker 2010).
Social media has moved bullying from the hallways of schools to and an inevitable all time exposure for many young people who can either be the victims or perpetrators (Costabile 2012). Social media and technological advancement has made it difficult for parents and guardians to supervise and control the activities of peers online. Cyberbullying has negative effects such as loneliness, depression, sleep deprivation, unhappiness, distress, tension, anxiety suicidal thoughts, low self-esteem and confidence (Welker 2010). Some of the signs that a victim of cyberbullying possess include withdrawal from social activities, reluctance to allow people access their electronic devices, loss of weight, drastic changes of personality, isolation, and truancy.
In conclusion, social media has generally had positive impact in day to day lives of people in the society today, however, the negative effects have increasingly become alarming especially due to excessive use. Controlled and moderated use of social media is one of the most effective ways of dealing with its negative effects such as antisocial behaviour, cyberbullying, and creation of false identity.
Costabile, Angela, and Barbara A. Spears. The Impact of Technology on Relationships in Educational Settings. Routledge, 2012.
Giles, David. “Media influences on prosocial and antisocial behaviour.” Psychology of the Media, 2010, pp. 31-53.
Jordan, Amy B. Media and the Well-Being of Children and Adolescents. 2014.
Roleff, Tamara L. Cyberbullying. Greenhaven P, 2012.
“Social Networks: Privacy Granted and the Negative Effects for the Individual and Society.” International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR), vol. 5, no. 3, 2016, pp. 198-201.
Welker, Heidi S. Principal Perspectives on Social Networking and the Disruptive Effects of Cyberbullying. 2010.