How social media is socially stunting our society: an anthropologist and acclaimed journalist shares his warnings
Facebook has been around for more than a decade now and more than 100 million people worldwide actively use the social media platform. However, more and more people are expressing their concerns regarding the rise of social media usage and how it apparently displaces the global population’s capacity to socialize naturally, and decreases our emotional and mental health.
Besides smartphones being dangerous to our physical health, smartphones also have the capacity to vegetate our minds. These electronic devices give us access to the Internet, which then expose us to platforms that use up all our time and consciousness. While the Internet gives us access to vital and useful information on anything we could ever think of, it is also most likely the beginning of the end for human independence (from technology).
Sebastian Junger, an American journalist, author, and anthropologist, discusses the issue on a podcast with podcast host and stand-up comedian Joe Rogan. In his interview, Junger conveyed his disapproval of social media, especially the amount of time people spend staring at their handheld gadgets. He related the rise of the information age to the majority of the population becoming anti-social, unhappy, and anxious. Negative events, such as increases in mass shootings, diagnosis of depression, anxiety, and reports of suicide are his examples of the downsides of this tech craze.
Junger is known for his coverage of the war on terror in Afghanistan. He also published a book titled War, and even directed an acclaimed documentary, Restrepo.
These technologies that supposedly connect people all around the world are turning out to be detriments to the society as a whole, he says. People no longer take the time to experience life as it is, and instead, take to the Internet and do nothing but “like” and “comment”. Teenagers’ mental health is also greatly affected by this. Adolescence is the time when we start becoming painfully aware of our surroundings, including other peers’ opinions. These teenage anxieties, which have existed long before personal computers, are inflamed by these online social platforms. News and other multimedia companies take advantage of online advertisement, promoting their beliefs on how the world should be, creating confusion and chaos among the individuals who patronize these systems.
Another concerned individual sympathizes in this regard. One of the founders of Facebook, Sean Parker, explains that these social media devices exploit the vulnerability of the human essence. The dopamine that is social media only creates a narcissistic, self-validating loops that consume valuable time and conscious attention. “Liking”, “commenting”, and “sharing” (which are virtually useless in reality) causes us to run around an endless cycle of insignificant information documentation in hopes of acknowledgment, which later on propels us to create more of the same.
Social media platform owners and creators are aware of this weakness in human psychology, and are taking advantage of it. Parker is just one of the many individuals who regret having a hand in creating these life-stagnating technologies. The mental health of the global population is deteriorating and is mostly due to anxieties produced by social media.
A word to the anxious, depressed, overloaded, and defeated: Reality consists of finding your purpose in life in a massive ocean of opinion and deterrents to your ambitions. Happiness is not found in electronic, handheld devices, but is instead found in the actual experience of life. While these technologies offer you an easier way to connect and experience the world, we must still continue living a natural life, free from the troubles and disadvantages of electronics.
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