The influence of social media on our society
Interpersonal interaction has been an essential part of our society since the dawn of humanity. But the degree of our connectedness in times of Facebook and Instagram influences us more and more. Do we run the risk of destroying our social structure through permanent digital contact?
Digital networks have brought the Internet, together with all the themes of our world, into our hands. The television was replaced by YouTube, the letter by the instant message or the radio by Spotify. Many things that used to require significantly more effort, whether in terms of time or finances, have become much more accessible nowadays.
This is how the printed newspaper became the online portal for news. From the given television program developed Sky, Netflix and Amazon Prime. The unilaterally represented source of information became a platform adapted to the user, which encouraged the further use by forwarding and a high offer.
They are everywhere. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest. Being in touch with the world through social networking has become an integral part of modern society. Already at a young age, the first contact with the platforms takes place. So it often happens that children already have a strong knowledge of the Internet and its use.
The rapid development that has taken place in the last 30 years has been a huge leap for many people. The coming constantly occurring innovations in the form of updates are the most overwhelmed older generation no relief.
Glamor, luxury and a wild lifestyle: who does not know them? Instagram stars, who already wake up looking like they have been looked after overnight by a make-up artist. After the perfectly staged breakfast in bed, it continues in exotic places directly with the splendid self-presentation. Whether on land with the Lamborghini, on water on a luxury yacht or on the air, by private jet, of course. The world in which the influencers and stars of our society are found seems aloof and perfect to ordinary people.
But not only the prominence in social media causes an uncomfortable feeling in humans. Even the close environment around you can be reason enough to feel bad: Whether you are working in the office yourself and your colleague is on vacation on an island or your best friend has just met the perfect man, while Amor does it for yourself not exactly easy: A post here, an update there and you run the risk to spoil your mood.
The idealized representation of people in the form of content on the Internet, which emanate a high degree of perfection, makes many people feel like the inferiority of their own lives.
As part of a recent study by the University of Pennsylvania, the useful life of social media was measured by 143 students and their impact on the mental health of those involved was analyzed.
From the perspective of the professor of psychology, Melissa G. Hunt, who was also the experimenter, the result of the study proved to be “striking”. She also summarized, “Over the three-week period, we found that signs of loneliness and depression have significantly decreased for users who have reduced their social media use.”
Participants who started the study with symptoms of depression and reduced their consumption of social media to a daily maximum of 10 minutes had a significantly reduced level of symptoms.
The study shows that people who are already suffering from psychological distress in the form of depression or loneliness are at an increased risk of aggravating these conditions by using social media.
Insomnia, mood swings, anxiety, stress and depression are among the best-known diseases, which are amplified by media use or even occur through them.
Two people who talk to each other and exchange information are basically a fact that can be studied at various levels. Word choice, intonation, facial expressions and gestures are aspects that influence a conversation and promote a mutual interaction.
Seen in this way, two persons are sufficient for interpersonal interaction, which alone establish eye contact with each other. A conversation is thus not based purely on the verbal level, but also on the physical. Body language as an additional means of communicating the message of a person, through which an additional level of dialogue depth can emerge, completely disappears on social media.
Although emojis come close to the presentation of facial expressions and gesticulation of the participants, they can not replace the body language in its entirety. This schematic representation is far from a substitute for the actual body language that occurs during a conversation.
In general, therefore, a large part of the mentioned communication levels, which are important components of the maintenance of mental health, are missing. Man as a “social being” is as dependent on physical communication as he is on the verbal.
While on the one hand the real form of a conversation is quite clear, there is much more danger on social media of creating misinterpretations due to the lack of communication levels. Apart from that, there is no personal get-together on which social co-existence is based. In addition, the answer is delayed if the caller is not online. Be it because the phone is out of order or the chat is overlooked.
Such issues militate against the use of social media, which arguments are powerless in terms of the enormous number of users. Too strong is the convenience and functionality of the networks, than to omit them completely.
Summing up the given facts, one concludes that ultimately the stability of the social structure of our society due to social media is severely impaired. On the other hand, we are able to communicate with each other, if not completely, around the clock.
The transmission of the need for physical closeness, communication levels and the overall communication process of a person at the digital level seems an impossible challenge. The future-oriented technology, such as “virtual reality” or “holograms”, which is intended to introduce the missing components of social interaction in the form of personal presence, currently appears to be immature.
The need of modern society to work, transport and communicate ever faster in the pulse of time brings with it a multitude of risks, which obviously represent the opposite of the arguments that endorse the use of the resources developed.
So all in all, we have nothing but to wait and see how our social structure interacts with social media. However, it seems that the real interaction between people will by no means be replaceable by the media.