Wow! It has definitely come a long way since I was born – in the late 20th century (that makes me sound extremely old). Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are becoming increasing popular and essentially key forms of communication in our daily lives. Not only are they being used to connect with people all around the world e.g. friends and family, they have become platforms where companies can market themselves and reach out to a wider audience. I have no doubt that it definitely has it’s high points but simultaneously it has it’s low points.
Today, I was watching a bunch of YouTube videos and I came across one called ‘The Stripped down challenge’. As far as I am concerned, it has been surfacing quite a lot recently since Jonah Green started it in early November this year (click here to watch it). The challenge entails sitting in front of a camera for 10 minutes and talking about whatever topic you want – it could be personal, it could be random, it could be anything. The only rules are
You can’t edit the video
You can’t cut anything out
You can’t have any background music
For many of the people I have seen, (I have only watched a few) this was quite difficult because you weren’t able to remove any of those ‘awkward thinking moments‘ or interruptions during your time of recording. The main aim of it was to demonstrate the real side of Youtubers (the true side of people behind the camera) in response to a video uploaded by Essena O’ Neil which was called ‘Why I really am quitting social media’ (click here to watch). The video was quite emotional (especially towards the end) as she talked about the negatives of social media, how her life has been consumed by it and ‘numbers’ e.g. Number of followers or number of likes. She discussed a lot of things which were very much true to an extent and completely justified in some respect but I thought her overall perception of social media was clouded by her experiences. This created a very subjective view of some of the platforms I have mentioned above. Consequently, I had the idea to just sit down and reflect on social media & respond to what she said.
Social media is a great way to connect with people you know & don’t know from the comfort of your home or anywhere because of the availability of the internet on all platforms of technology. To be honest, wherever there is a place where people can come together and talk to each other online, that can be defined as social media. Regardless, of whether it is a forum or just the good old Snapchat.
I am very active on social media and have numerous social media accounts because not only do they allow me to engage in different experiences, they allow me to do different things. For example:
It allows me spontaneously blurt out my reactions to daily life, trending topics and connect with celebrities or fandoms e.g. The Walking Dead Fans (you are AWESOME if you watch that show)
It allows me to be 100% free. I post stupid, funny and ugly looking content to my friends or story but I don’t care about the reaction (to a certain extent) because I don’t feel like I need to wear a ‘mask’.
It allows me explore my creativity and artistic side. I’m not going to lie but I love aesthetics hence why I have a passion for photography and pictures. Therefore I create themes or edit pictures not because I want to make myself look ‘perfect’ but because I want to create a mood.
I could write a paragraph or essay on each of these (but ain’t nobody got time for that) however, I just wanted to show that you can achieve great things by using social media as a tool rather than a weapon. It’s qualities such as these which I believe Essena overlooked and forgot to mention in her video.
Simultaneously, there are negative things that come from social media. Similar to the saying ‘love and hate are two sides of the same coin’ this also applies. From my experiences, I have witnessed and also experienced the abuse from social media. Although many people go onto Instagram, for example. and post compliments on people’s pictures there are also those trolls a.k.a ‘haters’ who can spam your account with horrible messages.
An example of this is through the platform Ask.fm. This platform allowed people to ask questions to each other or celebrities then those people would be able to directly respond. However, there was a feature where you could make yourself anonymous and people used this as ammunition to ask horrible questions or spam you with horrible messages. I remember, seeing my friends undergoing such torment so I stepped in to protect them. Nevertheless, the hate didn’t stop, it continued and eventually I became the next target. Those days of my life where honestly the most horrible and darkest periods because I felt like I couldn’t turn to anyone. Although I put a brave face and responded back diplomatically, a part of me felt defeated because the hate began to tug on my emotions and wear me down. Fortunately, I had the support of my family and friends to get me out of the situation but not all people are able to recover. Consequently, at the time many young people were commiting suicide due to the hate which accumulated from that site.
The sad thing is the hate/ judgement of other people is almost like a drug. You know it is bad for you but you keep taking it because you’re addicted. You need to see/ know what people think about you so that you can be secure about yourself but this shouldn’t be the case.
The ugly side of social media is this side I believe Essena was dicsuccing about predominantly in her video. Most of her opinions about social media seemed to come from this line of argument so I thought it would be reasonable to share this angle.
After using social media for a while, sometimes it has this undesired affect on people to crave more. It turns you into a person who is no longer content with what they have because they always want more. This is mainly represented with ‘numbers.’ You want a good number of likes, followers and comments in order to demonstrate the social power you have amongst social media and to also gain personal satisfaction. For example, I would feel really gassed if one of my pictures received 10,000 likes because it would feel like 10,000 people approve of your looks, they like your photo and possibly like you. Once you hit that target, you always want to achieve better and better. This applies to all people regardless of whether you are on social media or not e.g. if you get an A on your test, the next time you take a test you would either aim to get another A or possibly an A* because we are generally brought up under the principle tat working hard allows is to achieve success.
However, the problem with this desire is that sometimes we become hungry for it which then makes it a neccessity. You begin to ask for more shoutouts or ask for more likes. You research ways in order to create a better appeal and then start changing yourself in order to conform to the ‘perfect person’ that society wants you to be. You are no longer an individual, just as copy. So this allows the question to arise… What makes you special? How are you different? At this point you have lost your scence of identity and your life becomes dedicated and infatuated by social media. Whenever you get a notification you check your phone and do things that you wouldn’t do in real life (the world outside the computer screen). Therefore, you slowly damage the memories of life because you ‘don’t have time’ to create them because you are stuck behind a screen.
These arguments may seem extreme or a bit far fetched, but honestly social media is a combination of all, even though it doesn’t want to be. For example a person can be kind, a liar and manipulative, they compromise of different personality traits but depending on who comes into contact with it depends on your perception of them. One person may perceive them to be really kind whilst another may feel like they are a total liar. It’s all down to perception. The problem with perception is that if you’re not open minded then you won’t be able to acknowledge the full package and you will be limited to one view. So I am not going to glorify social media and give it a ton of praise when there are still negative sides to it BUT unlike Essena I will acknowledge the positives rather than allow the negatives to shut them out. As a result, I still stand by my original view about the amazing benefits of social media.