There are many articles pronouncing the detrimental effects social media has on mental health, touting the increase of depression due to feelings of inadequacy, jealousy and anxiety. However, Psychology Today is also quick to point out that those “who use the site primarily to feel connected do not experience the negative effects”. They even go on to state that social networking over the internet can be beneficial to one’s well being, so long as they are not affected by others and use the platform purely to connect with their friends and family.
Researchers suggest that prior to using any form of social media, one must be clear in regards to what they are signing up for. They must understand that it is a platform for others to share whatever they please, and it is in no way an accurate representation of a person’s life. Although some may argue that it should not have to be that case at all, and that those suffering due to the fortunes of others should examine themselves instead.
With all the quotes that people share daily, many have probably come across ones such as: The only time you should look in your neighbour’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbour’s bowl to see if you have as much as them. Or the classic, Comparison is the thief of joy.
But the truth is that wars have been fought over land and greed, people have always wanted more. The difference is that now, social media has made it far easier to take a peek into someone else’s life to determine how much they have and how one is still lacking. It is common for generations to face problems that their predecessors did not have to deal with, and Facebook is taking preventive measures in order to make the networking site a much more pleasant experience for everyone.
After conducting a research on trends and behaviours, it shows that those who lead a happier lifestyle tend to engage more than simply passively scrolling. They would like to encourage more personal interactions than have the platform crowded with online marketing companies such as brands, businesses or other such commercial pages.
Physical health has also given many reason to worry about excessive social media usage. The dangers of Facebook addiction is being compared to cigarettes. Benioff is one of the loudest who has lent his voice to the criticism of Facebook, saying that it should be regulated as other addictive substances are. The comments from the CEO of Salesforce, a cloud managing company, has presented an opportunity for others to raise their concerns.
In particular, Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook, described that these platforms provide users with a dose of dopamine – a naturally occurring and addictive hormone found in the human body – through validation. He criticized the workings of the social media network, claiming that it exploits a vulnerability in the human psychology.
It is also rather suspicious why the founder of the website, Mark Zuckerberg, does not actually have a standard Facebook account. Stemming from the same concept as “never get high on your own supply”, founders of social media understand its negative impacts on one’s life. Instead of handling his own account, he has a team of twelve to do that for him. Furthermore, they moderate his comments, arrange for photo ops and write his posts.
As reported by Guardian, over at Twitter, “of the company’s nine most senior executives, only four tweet more than once a day on average. Ned Segal, its chief financial officer, has been on the site for more than six years and has sent fewer than two tweets a month.”
It is apparent, even when it comes to gadgets such was the plight of the offspring of Steve Jobs, the genius behind Apple. He “spoke about all the virtues of the iPad and then wouldn’t let his kids near it”. He has even gone as far as to tell a New York Times reporter that “they haven’t used it” and “we limit how much technology our kids use at home”.
Once one has a deeper understanding of how technology is used by their creators, one can easily uncover the truth: how commercial product are encouraged to be used is beneficial to nobody but their creators. It is not to say that technology is a hindrance, quite the opposite: it is human nature to take something which can be used in a positive manner and turning it into something destructive as it can be seen with nuclear weapons.
This surge of technology changes the human psyche by conditioning instant gratification, addiction and sets people up to be more vulnerable to mental illnesses. However, with proper application, social media can be beneficial to society as it is a platform for likeminded people to form communities and share their sentiments. The internet was the key to globalization, but it is up to us how we want our experiences to shape us.