The Frightening Truth of Social Media: Are You Safe? Think Again!

Nothing Grand comes to Human lives without repercussions.

With every passing day, the inherent irony of the word ‘social media’ becomes more and more apparent. It lures us into a trap of ‘becoming social’. When in reality it is a manipulative procedure of desocialising us. The moment we log in to our social media accounts we are exposed to a world jammed with ‘our followers’, glamorous lifestyles, condensed news, influencers or in short the fantasy world that we have been secretly incepting from our childhood. These artificial emotions not only distance us from reality but also increases our expectations from it. The non-fulfilment of these unrealistic expectations is what leads to anxiety, depression, loneliness and self-esteem issues.

Truth of Social Media: How Social media affects our relationships

Do you wonder why your ‘only friends’ are also ineffective in getting you off your phone? It is because you have been sold!

Yes, Social media platforms have won in selling you to an endless loop of gaining profit which is used to feed and fatten the social media companies at the stake of your mental health, irregular sleep, broken relationships and clinical depression. Social media has mastered the art of understanding the functioning of your brain, more than you yourself will ever understand. Your every like, share, click or comment is registered and processed by the social media algorithms. Your data is then used to predict your choices which easily engages you into the futile practice of infinite scrolling. 

Truth of Social Media: Infinite scrolling of social media

Let’s see how the most famous Social Media Platforms admit this:

We need to understand that addiction is not a bug rather a feature of social media. Seemingly designed to brainwash and manipulate your mind. It reduces you to be easy prey for the advertisers and propagandists.

Log out your social media accounts for the next 5 minutes and recognize the trap that you are being tricked into every second of your life.

Social Media As A Cause Of Narcissim And Imposter Syndrome

Narcissism can range from being a fragile trait to a clinically diagnosed disorder (NPD) depending on the individual’s genetic and environmental factors. It is characterised by the fabrication of your self-image through external validation and approval.

Truth of Social Media: The Imposter Syndrome

Social media being an exhibitionistic platform deepens the abyss of social approval that a narcissist person experiences. We become sensitive to social exclusion and begin to measure our worth on the account of the number of likes and comments we receive. Any interruption in this process of acquiring likes/comments ushers anxiety and aggression. This happens, because till then, we were living in an illusionary world which is submissive to our presumed ‘superiority’ and ‘specialness’. Being ‘special’ is not the problem but subjecting your ‘specialness’ to the approval of others is definitely a grave one.

The findings of The Open Psychology Journal depicts that individuals who posted huge numbers of pictures and selfies on social media advanced a 25% rise in narcissistic trends over the 4-month study.[1]

The Frightening Truth of Social Media: Are You Safe? Think Again!

The meaning of a ‘good day’, our mood, behaviour and even sleep is moulded within the framework of public endorsement. The constant anxiety of corresponding to the market ideals of beauty and acceptance is firmly established in our brain through our ‘favourite’ influencers and fashion bloggers. This angst is further agitated by Instagram and Snapchat filters which makes us more conscious of our physical appearance. The mechanical techniques used by social platforms not only hinders us from accepting our real selves but also makes us less empathetic.

Such superficial approach of your self-worth then becomes the cause of vulnerable narcissism which in turn is correlated with imposter syndrome in which people are likely to experience depression, self alienation, suicidal inclinations, become subjects to self harm and dismiss any positive evaluation of their own self.

Here’s a very helpful source on How Social Media’s Beauty standards affect people: Beauty, Body Image, and the Media by Jennifer S. Mills, Amy Shannon and Jacqueline Hogue (ennifer S. Mills*, Amy Shannon and Jacqueline Hogue)

Dr. Lambardo in a research states that around 70% of the global population suffers from imposter syndrome. She further claims that the statistics are under a constant trigger due to the advancement in the usage of social media.[2]

Social Media And Fake News

The ballot of 25,000 interviews in 25 economies reveals that over four in five (86%) online international citizens suspect that they’ve been disclosed to simulated news.[3]

Truth of Social Media: The Fake News Triangle
The Fake News Triangle. Credit: trendmicro.com

Any piece of information fabricated to intensify the existing social and political dynamics can be termed as fake news. The frequency with which you encounter such news varies for different platforms which include: Facebook (67%), other social media outlets (65%), websites (60%), YouTube (56%), and television (51%).[4]

The overload of information on the internet and especially the democratic space which social media platforms provide where every person has an agency to create content leads to infinite interpretations of single news. The news on social media then loses its authenticity and becomes a vague narrative of a person’s psyche leaving the consumer in a disarray. This often becomes a cause of false opinions and political upheavals furthering the hate that is already perpetuating in our society.

To cite a very recent example: Two sadhus and their driver were lynched in Gadchinchale village in Palghar, Maharashtra, India on 16th April 2020. According to an intelligence report, the incident was triggered by WhatsApp rumours about thieves being functional in the area and that the mass of villagers had killed the three passengers by mistaking them to be thieves.[5]

In this era of spontaneity, social media has become an instant source of information. We prefer to rely on the cursory understanding of the political situation propagated on social media platforms instead of reading an article from a relatively more reliable source. This attitude makes you vulnerable to the traps of techniques like clickbait which uses stirring headlines to attract attention and steer click-through to the publisher’s website usually at the expense of truth and authenticity.

  • The Frightening Truth of Social Media: Are You Safe? Think Again!
  • The Frightening Truth of Social Media: Are You Safe? Think Again!
  • The Frightening Truth of Social Media: Are You Safe? Think Again!

The inhumanity of this technical era is such that fragile political situations are used to gain support, create biases, instil hate or collect things as trivial as website visitors. The society and authorities make a mockery out of a serious social-political situation where the sole motive of the organisations is to squeeze profit rather than acknowledging the cause and working towards the solution of the discourse.

Research proves that false news spread six times faster on twitter than any authentic information with a staggering retweeting rate of 70%. This gives a clear insight into how corrupt our outlook has become![6]

Is Social Media Invading Our Privacy?

Have you ever wondered how easily the personal information you upload on the internet can be used against your own self? Well, A recent report by Freedom on the Net shows that 89% (3 million) of the global population is being actively monitored on the internet. What if you are one among them?[7]

Truth of Social Media: Invading our privacy

We need to acknowledge the fact that every uploaded information on the internet is being stored somewhere and can be misused at any instant. The reason behind such frauds can be political advertising, personal profits, fraudulent activities, or even for the sake of fun.

Artificial intelligence, pattern analytics and automated tools are continuously evolving to further streamline this process of mass surveillance. What makes such platforms more vulnerable is the lack of institutionalised government-regulated acts for the invasion of privacy. The only acts functioning in this area are generalised around the United Kingdom governed Data Protection Act (1998) and the Computer Misuse Act (1990).

My argument can be further backed by the terms and conditions of Facebook’s privacy policy where Facebook claims the ownership of any data (personal pictures and videos) that a user uploads online and states that they can use them to create photo calendars which they sell and earn profit from without even the authorization of the original owner of the content (user).[8]

Truth of Social Media: Twitter's Personal Information and ads Policy
Twitter also admitted working in a similar manner.

The 2018 Cambridge Analytica Scandal in itself illustrates the harsh truth of data privacy today. This scandal involved the exploitation of the private data of around 50million Facebook users for an American presidential election.[9] Even in 2011, there had been a similar breach in Sony’s PlayStation where their network was hacked and the private information of around 70 million people was exposed and subjected to misuse.[10]

So the next time you update your social media status or click on ‘agree’ to a privacy policy remember that far before you would recognize any misuse with your personal information, it would have been circulated to millions of cybercriminals, propagandists and people ready to phish or mine your data.

So, Is Quitting Social Media A Solution?

Truth of Social Media: Quitting Social Media

The roots of our society have been corrupted with the sting of capitalism which has consumed us within itself to the depths from which emerging out seems next to impossible. If you escape social media then capitalism will make you resign to some other source on the internet. Now quitting the internet in this High-Tech world is hardly a point worth considering!

So the only option left is to be ‘Awake’. Be conscious and aware of the traps that you are being lured into while using social media. Recognize your needs and motives of adhering to such platforms and possibly limit your usage within the margins of that standard. 

“The internet is a dangerous place. If you are not careful it will consume you and rob you of your happiness. It can make you angry, jealous, hostile, bitter and lead to the eventual loss of enthusiasm for living your best life. Be wary and avoid overconsumption.”

Germany Kent

Liked this Article? Also read: Psychology and Its Role in Marketing.

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