The bright side of social networking is widely noticed and appreciated. Brands and organizations have businesses that are benefitting from social media websites. Having access to social media gives people a chance to connect with others. But there is also another side to using social media and how it influences people and businesses alike.
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Why do people use social networking?
Social networking allows users to stay in touch with their friends, families, and loved ones. It also lets them network and finds career opportunities, shares their interests and like-minded thoughts, feelings, and insight with people on the other side of the screen. Users also use the internet to look up products to buy online, research about these products and reach out to the brands’ customer support for further inquiry. And finally, some users also use social networking sites to be aware of the happenings around the world.
The dark side of social networking
There was a study published in 2014 that showed that the majority of people on social media are not using social media networking for staying social, rather as a means of consuming information. Facebook also released an academic study in a blog post that when people spend a lot of time on the internet, passively consuming information, they end up feeling worse. Just a few minutes of Facebook is enough to depress anyone; clicking and liking links and posts seem to have negative health on internet users. Reports show that Instagram is the worst social media for mental health.
Another study revealed that when an internet user is scrolling through vacation photos of someone’s recent trip to Hawaii or their happy relationship news, the parties they throw, the times they spend with their friends, internet users are more likely to experience sadness and loneliness, leading to depression. Even if social networking has been helpful in many regards, it is important not to ignore the negative side effects many people are going through because of it.
Double Personas: Social networking has given individuals a chance to picture themselves in a different light. An individual paints a new self-image while spending most of his time online, and one would argue that this is good because he is exploring an aspect of his identity. While this might be true, the problem arises when his online persona or others’ online presence starts affecting his real-life persona. Due to the extreme superficiality of social media, that person would start comparing his real-life persona to the ones that he sees on social media. He would either feel extremely depressed as to why his life isn’t as perfect as the ones he sees on other profiles online or he starts working on his online persona. Both these options are harmful to him since comparing his own life to someone else’s and living up to an online persona is not a very healthy one. Hence, that individual will always struggle between these two worlds or identities.
Online Influencers: Online influencers are popping up on the social media newsfeed every day. They are persons who document their lives and put them up on social media for others’ viewing pleasure. It is extremely easy to be one nowadays. It doesn’t require any talent or special skills; they just have to make their social media profile appear aesthetically pretty for others to think they have the perfect lives, which turns internet users towards them for a standard they have to strive or pine for. This badly affects the internet users’ self-image. They think their lives are much more boring and gloomier as compared to influencers that they follow. This thought process has a major negative impact on their mental health.
Self-Isolation: Looking at social media influencers’ profiles with their perfect looks and aesthetic décor leads a person to feel isolated if he is not careful. It leads him to think that his life is not as exciting as the influencers’, hence leading to self-isolation or taking steps to create a fake persona online. Not to mention, with self-isolation comes the feeling of being excluded and missing out. Self-isolation was not generated because of browsing social networking and following infleuncers’ lifestyles and cultures but it could definitely result from them.
Social Media Digital Drama: Another dark side to social networking that needs to be discussed is the digital drama that consumers throw around and companies and brands have to bear the brunt of. Although using social media has turned out to be beneficial for brands and companies with their products, they also have to experience consumers’ reactions on social media which could negatively affect their brands’ image. Consumers have the advantage in this scenario; they can post feedback online for hundreds of other consumers to see, troll the brand by streaming live about the product online and instigate cyberbullying. Enraged consumers would tweet or post a negative review and the brands or companies would lose their following in the blink of an eye. Negative reviews of brands and companies could undermine their struggle, and the next day, it won’t exist anymore.
Social networking is not a negative platform in itself, rather using it negatively would impact users’ lifestyles and companies’ livelihood as well. Each person has to use social networking websites responsibly to take care of the impact he might come across.