Everyone uses social media these days. Some even use it all day, posting everything they do online in exchange for comments and likes from other social media users. There is this huge urge to share what we do, see, and experience on social media. In some cases, social media becomes an addiction that is difficult to cure.
Social media usage, however, doesn’t always lead to positive things. While the initial idea is allowing people to connect and communicate with each other in a healthy way, social media today has too many negative side effects. Excessive use of social media could lead to serious harm in your everyday life. On top of that, social media sites gather every bit of information about us: from our IP addresses to the color of socks we wear.
A lot of social media users – including you and I – don’t realize that they are sharing private, sensitive information online. The location of your family dinner, photos from your last get-together, and even selfies posted online are all data that can be exploited for malicious use. Users also willingly share details about themselves, including their birth date, nickname, and email address.
Social media sites collect data from every post you make. They run big data AI behind the scenes to process your data and social media posts, and then profile you as a user. This is how they can recommend friends with mutual interests, show contextual promoted content, and even take further steps in refining your social media experience.
Social media sites aren’t really breaching your privacy; you willingly – and with consent – share content on social media. With every post you make, the social media site gains more insight into who you are in real life. Since most social media sites are also advertising networks, insights gathered about you are then used for commercial purposes.
And we haven’t even gotten to data leaks yet. Companies as big as Facebook or Tinder are not immune to cyberattacks. Tinder recently lost more than 70,000 photographs of its female users; those photos later ended up on a cyber-crime forum. Facebook was breached numerous times in recent years, and millions of user credentials were sold to third-party buyers as a result.
Social Media and Mental Health
It is not a secret that the fear of missing out (FOMO) is a primary drive for many who are active on social media. We often find ourselves checking Instagram or opening Twitter just seconds after closing the app simply because the drive is always there. We fear that we miss out on what others are doing or a funny post that goes viral.
The dynamics of social networking platforms aren’t always healthy. When you start being driven by likes and positive comments from others, you enjoy life less. You start focusing more on producing more great content for your followers or colleagues. When the likes aren’t as high as usual, you feel bad about sharing something of low quality.
That fear translates to psychological harm. Receiving a negative comment on social media – or several of them – can easily make you feel bad about yourself. For some social media users, these negative effects are serious enough to affect the rest of their lives. Some even go as far as falling into depression because of social media.
When ignored, the negative effects of social media lead to more personal problems. You start feeling less confident about yourself. You prefer communicating online and start abandoning social activities and real-world friends you can actually meet. Your attention span becomes shorter and you begin to lose sleep. These are signs to watch out for. If you ever feel overwhelmed by social media, try disconnecting from it by playing a game online with this website. It is proven that playing games of chance makes you relax therefore reducing stress and makes you forget the anxiety that can be caused by the negative aspects of social media. Take a break, you deserve it.
The recent Cambridge Analytica case showed how social media – and the internet as a whole – can be used to manipulate opinions. Through a bombardment of information and negative content, social media users are exposed to certain ways of thinking. Severe-enough exposure will lead to those users changing how they think about certain issues.
The problem gets worse now that there are fake accounts and bots trolling social media sites. Fake accounts sharing fake news stories can easily gain traction and become viral with the help of thousands – sometimes millions – of other fake accounts. The way social media algorithms work makes it easy for bots and trolls to exploit social networks.
Don’t be surprised to see a fake account with a photo of you as the avatar. This type of bot is specifically designed to look real in its interaction with other social media users by using real people’s photos. Bots usually operate behind a proxy server to remain anonymous; something you can also do if you don’t want social media sites tracking you.
Nevertheless, social media today causes more harm than good. If you are not sure whether you can filter the negative effects of social media, leaving social networking sites altogether is the better way to go. You can live a healthier, happier life, connect with people in the real world, and stop worrying about being manipulated or becoming distressed because of social media posts.