Social media refers to internet-based, interactive, long-lasting platforms for mass personal communication that enable great perceptions of interactions among users and derive meaning primarily from user-generated data. Tiktok, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are the widely used, intimate social media platforms at present. It surely has many advantages, which is why the number of people using social media is growing every day. As a matter of fact,a research “The power of social media analytics” by Fan and Gordon in 2014 claimed users spend 20% of their time on social media. Similarly Statista (2020) reports users spending 142 minutes per day in social media showing the ever increasing trend since its evolution. As we are spending so much of our time using them, this article focuses primarily on the disadvantages of social media, dividing the negative effects of social media into three groups. Firstly, social media encourages a fictitious illusion of online "connections" and superficial relationships, which can lead to mental and psychological problems. The second disadvantage of social media is that it can potentially become addictive, robbing people of their families and personal time while also eroding coping abilities and contributing to antisocial conduct. Finally, traffickers, predators, and terrorists have turned to social media as a platform for committing violent activities. There appears to be a strong link between social media and psychosomatic problems, as well as criminal activity. Hence psychosomatic issues, catfishing, and illegal behavior seem to be the most serious drawbacks of social media in the internet age.
Psychosomatic Problems Social media has particularly negative consequences on young people, as it allows them to over-analyze and judge themselves and their issues. Social Media depression, paranoia, and catfishing seem to be three major psychiatric conditions caused by social media. Anxiety: Social media can induce anxiety in two ways. Chronic stress causes anxiety and depression. Being on constant alert for new social media updates is the same as being on constant alert for predators to the instinctive fight or flight limbic system, which causes the stress hormone cortisol to be released. The tension that comes with continually having to reflect an unrealistic and unattainable vision of success within your social network is the second way that social media has triggered depression and anxiety. Having said that the feeling of fake love in social media also leads to depression. To begin with, social media encourages us to put on a show that emphasizes all of the fun, enthusiasm, and accomplishment we appear to have while doing nothing to address whether we are struggling on a deeper level in our everyday lives. And that's what we see people do, we want to project absolutely happy and trendy facades in our profiles to fit in. As a consequence, rather than painting a true picture of ourselves, our profiles represent how we want to be seen. When people spend so much time on social media sites, they develop depressive symptoms. This is referred to as "social media depression." To be clear, it is the psychological effects of social networking sites. Since Facebook is perhaps the most popular and commonly used social media platform, the concept of social media-related depression has been given a name as Facebook depression. Inadvertently, texting, instant messages, and social networking are causing teens to become overly self-conscious, nervous, and frustrated.
Catfishing The practice of befriending strangers online by using a false or stolen identity is known as "catfishing." It's like meeting someone online and then discovering by deceit that the photo you saw on social media was of someone completely different. Many of us are searching for love and feel that we will find it in the most unexpected of ways, such as social media. However, we will be disappointed. As a result, remaining alert and grounded in facts is critical in this search.
Criminal Activities Through the increased use of social media, deceptive and unethical individuals take advantage of the anonymity provided by these sites to lie, scam, harass, engage in cyberbullying, human trafficking, drug smuggling, pornography, and harm others in a variety of ways. Out of these many bullying, terrorism, and pornography via social media seems to be pertinent. Cyber Bullying: In the past few decades, cyberbullying has been a big problem among teenagers, as it encourages bullies to humiliate their victims by posting items in front of their peers. Aggression occurs through electronic means, such as the Internet and, especially, social media, in cyber-bullying. Bullying victimization has been linked to an increased risk of suicidal activity, as well as a higher risk of mental health issues. On the internet, exchanging violent comments is now considered a felony. Few people wish the secrecy of cyberspace to be ended, and others want criminals to be prosecuted in court. To defend against bully-victims, many countries have passed anti-cyberbullying legislation. Terrorism: Another potentially dangerous feature of social media is extremist organisations' accelerated adoption of the platform. Islamic extremism has flourished on a global scale in recent decades, not only in Muslim-majority nations, but also in Europe, Russia, and the United States. Terrorism has taken advantage of social media to collect intelligence, attract recruits, raise funds, and spread propaganda schemes. Social media may also be used as a platform for cyber terrorism, in which criminals use the Internet to spread misleading or damaging material. These types of events could potentially lead to stock prices plunging in minutes. Pornography: Another danger is the exchange of illegal pornography, making pornography reachable to the children could mislead the future generation. Especially the exchange of child pornography and other extreme porn deteriorates society values.
Reduced Work Productivity Due to habit-forming nature employees and students constantly sneak into their social media causing frequent distraction from their work and studies respectively. Habits like these directly impact productivity as one cannot pay sincere attention to what they are doing, failing to meet deadlines and even health issues due to improper sleep . Due to this even some companies and academic institutions often block social media within their organization network. In students, specifically it reduces their attention span due to which they cannot study for a longer period of time. When it comes to the relationship between social media and illegal activity, In today's world, there is a clear correlation between illegal activity, depression, anxiety, and social media. The psychological problems mentioned above, such as depression, loneliness, and a dysfunctional personality, make it easier for terrorist organizations to attract new members. From the preceding pages, it is clear that social media is one of many potential causes of emotional distress.
Benefits To conclude, social media allows users to establish fake profiles and shallow associations, induces depression, and is a key targeting vehicle for criminals and jihadists, considering the beneficial benefits of fast knowledge exchange. Finally, since social media is a relatively recent concept, and the effective research that has been conducted is still relatively new, I believe that the benefits of social media are often highlighted, as opposed to the negative aspects, which are barely addressed. This dynamic needs to shift, and I hope that my post will contribute to the change by further educating users on all sides of the debate. Change is nice, important, and unavoidable, but it still has a cost. Good effects are not almost as harmful as detrimental ones in the long term. Upon examination, psychosomatic problems, catfishing, criminal activities like terrorism, pornography, and cyberbullying, reduced human productivity seem to be the dangers posed by social media. This article examines the dangers and aims to make the masses aware of its negative effect on society if misused.
(Pant is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering)