We all have been told the severe disadvantages of social media multiple times. We know of its addictive nature. But the reason we stick to social media is that it is just so good. Social media is an important tool to stay relevant in today’s times. For some, it is a platform to showcase your hobbies and create a genuine community of similar people. For some, it is a tool to connect with people living in other countries. For some, social media has become a business, it is a platform for new small home businesses to get some traction and grow bigger. Having many advantages, the disadvantage of its addictive nature seems like they can be overlooked and it has been overlooked till now and will continue to be overlooked if the consumers don’t start mindfully consuming content.
Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testified against Facebook this year during a Senate hearing entitled ‘Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower’ in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 5, 2021. In the hearing, she talked about how Facebook knowingly overlooked to make changes in its algorithm in order to make more profit. Facebook overlooked its own research where it found that the platform was negatively affecting teenage girls. To top it all off according to Frances, Facebook dissolved its civic-integrity team who’s main oath was to look after the interests of people over Facebook. Here is an article from TIME’s staff writer Billy Perrigo that talks in detail about the whole incident.
What I want to talk about through this blog are choices. Time and again we have seen companies overlooking their moral obligations in order to make a profit. To an extent, they cannot be blamed. A company needs money to run and operate. According to StatCounter(dot)com website Facebook owns 72.19% of the social media market. So there is basically nothing holding them back from making new rules that help their business. Okay, enough about Facebook’s stats. Often when we talk about social media addiction we focus on the “evils” that a company does and blatantly overlook consumer accountability. Coming back to choices, we rarely talk about how we as consumers need to be more accountable and wise when consuming this content. After all, these companies and their algorithms promote certain posts only because people are consuming them and we know that bad (explicit, gossip, trolls) posts are consumed far greater than the good meaningful posts. Since we have evolved to consume anything and everything. Anything and everything is coming our way. Just this last week I had a reel where a guy was upskirting a girl. The girl saw this and in her, “all generosity” decided to upskirt herself for the boy. This is the reality of the state of mind we are in right now.
The graph that you see on the right tells you the percentage age of Instagram users. What will a teenage boy understand when he will see that reel? I guess whatever he will learn will determine the fate of future generations. But, will it be his mistake? He is basically growing up seeing girls upskirting themselves and not looking at it as offensive.
Find more statistics at Statista
Instagram reels and TicTok are made to grab your attention for small seconds. Watching the upskirting video suggested to me by Instagram. It took me some time to understand what was happening and till I figured it out. The reel was over and the next reel came and I forgot about it. To give you an analogy, it is like that sneaky kid who you saw coming towards you and thought him to be harmless. Only until he came close, greeted you to make you completely defenseless, and right at that moment threw a stone right at your face. Before you could do anything, the kid ran away.
If you come to think of it. Social media is doing exactly what it was made to do. To bring us all together so that you can share “What’s on your mind?” and tell your friends “What’s happening?” in your life. Things took a bad turn because there was no accountability established on these platforms. We shared too much of ourselves online and since people were not accountable to anyone we shared anything and everything that came on our minds. I have realized that What’s on my mind is often not good to be shared with others and needs to be kept private. Having made my case here are some logical steps to take to live in this age of virtual closeness.
Need for filters
We need filters. The amount of content that is coming your way is tremendous. You basically have no walls set up to protect yourself from the multitude and polar nature of content that is pushed your way. You need to filter what you see and also you need to filter what you say. Don’t post anything with a sudden urge. Think before posting anything. Think of your device as a very selfish and personal place. It is your’s and it is your decision to make on who and what comes on your device. Don’t use an app just because everybody uses it. If you find a news channel that is sharing agenda delete that app. No one is stopping you from deleting it. We need to be very particular about what content we allow on our devices.
Consume and share only good content
The way these platforms are made is that they push content that is consumed and interacted my many people. If you mindlessly scroll through social media without interacting with the content you see. You are not making any change. If you see good content or something thoughtful share it, otherwise don’t. A better way to do it is to share content by adding a sentence of your own. By doing this you will actually read that post and then make your supporting argument. Often times when you start to write a supporting argument about something you will realize that you can’t support that. Writing will always give you clarity of thoughts. Whenever you see a good video or post. Question yourself whether you like it because of the upbeat music and colors or do you really like the idea shared in that video. I used to listen to songs that were very good at beat and I enjoyed them very much. Only to realize that I wouldn’t even say a word of that song to my closest friends.
Report bad content
It has never been more important than now. You need to start reporting content that you feel is not good. To decrease its reach and to discourage its maker for more such content. Earlier people used to work for years honing their craft before they came out in public. But with the advent of fast internet phones, everybody is a star. People spend less to no time sharping their skills and almost all their time shouting that they are better at what they do. If you look at something that is fake consider blocking that account. Many people create content that has great value in it. It might not be of very good quality yet but the hard work is there. Support these people. Ultimately it is your decision what is bad according to you. A general guide can be to report content that is sexual, objectify women, gossips, fake news, random pranks that are rigged and religious fanatics.
Hope you and I together can make a better Internet.