By Lewis Adams
Social networking site Facebook turned 13 this year and as the giant of the online communications universe enters its teenage years it seems adequate to explore the darker sides of the platform.
Communication at the click of a button, messages sent instantly without limitation, what’s not to love? I despise social media, a feeling of unrivalled abhorrence which so many people just do not understand. Although in 2012 94% of people belonging to my age group were found to be active on the site, I believe we need to take more forward-steps towards exposing the deceitful, sinister and more negative nature of Facebook and social networking as a platform which has evolved much further than functioning solely for communication.
Facebook corrupts people’s identities and helps them to adopt counterfeit personalities to please their mass, or not so mass, followers and ‘friends’. Furthermore, it seems that the website actually results in users becoming more unsociable. The site cannot be flawed for its ability to ease communication in an expanding world however in the long term when real life relationships break down there will be no one left to communicate with.
I can safely say I am proud to possess real, three-dimensional friends. Nonetheless, I do find that my acquaintances are also concerned with measuring their popularity by the number of friends, followers and ‘likes’ that they have acquired. Furthermore, everybody from David Cameron to David Beckham are involved in the fashionable website; surely it is more stylish to engage in real life contact than replacing this privilege with strangers in chat rooms? It is this that endangers the very essence of being sociable, as, when you’re conversing to whoever in the pixelated universe, you are in fact alone, in front of a screen, talking to that same person you avoid eye-contact with at school every day; somehow they seem more worthy in cyberspace
Thus the above leads me to a further point. Another function of social media should be exposed; whilst on one hand you can share photos from holidays, celebrations and other significant or interesting aspects of your real life, the site also allows users to gasconade about elements which they seem to refrain from publishing in a face-to-face situation. Users openly share who they’re with, what they’re doing and even what they’re eating yet in reality no one would want an intruder following them seeing what they’re doing, this is private but moreover it is simply boring, tedious and mind-numbing, why would I want to see what my friend’s nan made him for dinner? Even though I belong to the ‘technologically sophisticated’ generation it appears to me that conversations about how many followers someone has gained that social media just erodes social skills and is far from intellectual, why is it that people shy away in the real world when online that person would be happy to ‘Facebook marry’ a foreigner?
It is the paradoxical nature of social-networking that allows me to shine a light on the darker sides of Facebook and social media as a whole. For example within the fantasy world young men pose with knives and guns. This grants some people permission to conjure a bogus reputation on a site where image is everything. Furthermore, with the seemingly forsaken 13+ age restriction of Facebook, should parents really be complaining that their primary school children are being exposed to these images when they shouldn’t even be on the website? Whilst sites these sites allow users to communicate with ease at the impulse of a button there is also a colossal measure of negativity inside. From fraudsters to invasions of privacy, is social media a safe community to belong to?
However, despite the many issues surrounding the sites they do allow free, unbiased speech where things written do not seek such an influence as mainstream news media sites. Social media acts as a voice for the people, one that cannot be corrupted by the subjective nature of these ‘news’ outlets. The sites act as a source for news outlets who can use tweets and Facebook posts to show public opinion within their articles, as well as people being able to get live updates on matters that are unfolding as witnesses post events online. The public using social media to project news is an invaluable tool and although it may contain it’s fair share of ‘fake news’ one thing for sure is that this style of news reaches people a lot quicker than a newspaper’s publication of events. I believe that it should be vividly displayed how pernicious the effect of social media truly is on relationships between people and face-to-face connection and collaboration but it cannot be ignored that the platform does reinforce the notion of freedom of speech, even if the speech is your uncle ranting about Brexit again.
Overall I just want to give people a bystander’s view of a concept that people have become so preoccupied and engrossed within whilst missing out on real life. Furthermore, exposing the spiteful veracity some users hold and the power anonymity online can give towards these cowards. With over one billion active daily users and an estimated eighty three million fake accounts it is not surprising to see that there are parallel sides to the pixelated phenomenon and the danger of this should not be underestimated.
And that, as a whole, is why I believe that popularity does not emerge from posting last night’s dinner online and subsequently why I position myself in a stance of animosity against social media.