Research Project- Dylan Clark

Dylan Clark

March 1, 2015

Mass Communications

Dada

Facebook and Social Disconnection

Since the development of the Internet, the world has been shaped, molded and revolutionized to integrate itself with this profound and existential phenomenon. With the World Wide Web in place, people and businesses alike are able to communicate and broadcast their ideals while having access to vast amounts of information at a click of a button. From this, a concept known as social media was born, beginning with the Bulletin Board System (or BBS), which allowed users to host various “threads”, a discussion post where users can comment and add their own opinion to a discussion topic on a webpage. Following the BBS, AOL messenger was introduced in 1994, which was similar to the BBS. Here, members had profiles with user info, a precursor to today’s Social Media sites. One could communicate via AOL Messenger to other users through an online chat window. Everything changed, however, in 2003 when Myspace took effect. It was the birthing of concern, a concern of popularity that individuals carried pertaining to who had the most friends on their account and how much approval one could receive on their uploaded statuses and pictures. Granted, social media did and does indeed connect people throughout the world where it would be difficult to stay in contact without such a concept, yet it was also the beginning of disconnection to reality. It truly began in 2007 where a man named Mark Zuckerberg launched a new and improved, streamlined version of Myspace called Facebook. It was here that social disconnection truly took off and Facebook’s use of the “Like” button became a universal concept. Teens and adults alike everywhere became engrossed with who was doing what, what posts of theirs have people liked, and how many friends one could obtain. This disconnection from reality manifested itself particularly within the youth that is currently, if not progressively prevalent with the advancement of smartphones, which allows individuals to access Facebook from virtually anywhere. Therefore, does social media truly bring people together, or has it created a society where a detachment from reality is becoming more and more apparent?

Jonathan Safran Foer, a writer from the New York Times wrote, “Technology celebrates connectedness, but encourages retreat”. Let us focus on that; granted, social media does indeed allow one to keep in touch with their friend from across the globe that they met one summer through various circumstances, or knowing what one’s grandmother, who lives across the country, is up to. However, for the most part, it appears that alienation and physical interaction in a world where people are progressively in contact with one another via Web is a huge issue. A study from Carnegie Mellon University found that when directly interacting with people on Facebook, such as messaging a friend or posting on their wall, sensations of sociableness and happiness increased. This I can personally account for, since whenever I directly interact with my friends whom are off living their own lives and striving to achieve their own dreams, I feel content and connected to them, regardless of the fact they’re hundreds and hundreds of miles away. Yet, the study also goes to say that when individuals meander on Facebook, and mindlessly scroll down and down a news feed, it leads to an increase in isolation, loneliness and depression (Alex Greig, Daily Mail UK). This can also be attested to, since I myself have had such feelings of seeing other’s living their lives and experiencing new events. It makes others, and myself compare themselves to the people enjoying life, wondering why can’t myself be doing the same whilst scrolling aimlessly down a news feed. Comparing oneself to others only creates discord and strife in one’s life, when in truth the race is long and in the end it is only with oneself. It creates a lack of intimacy that once was common in everyday life, where individuals used to have conversations while grabbing coffee or enjoying a meal.

Social media has developed the ability to be somewhere else given any moment, to escape from any particular situation so one does not have to face that situation. It could take place at a party, in a bar, on the subway, walking to and from classes, and this creates more timid natures and isolation especially in young individuals who are the future of the human race. It takes away from meaningful relationships, kills intimacy and hinders personal development. Michael Price has an article featured on the American Psychological Association’s website that states during an interview with social psychologist, Sherry Turkle PhD, that social technology isolates people from the reality and shifts personal relationships. Individuals on Facebook distract individuals from real life events and can strew what is truly important to what one begins to believe is important. The youth and people in their 20’s, my age and demographic, spend their entire time looking down on a tiny, illuminated screen completely oblivious to the outside world. We as a society wonder why anxiety with public speaking and anxiety in general is such a growing problem, particularly in this day and age, when the majority who have this sort of anxiety have little to none experiences personally or physically interacting with other individuals. From Facebook and the desire to have the most “Likes” or approval, individuals in reality such as the classroom, tend to dislike disagreeing with other classmates. Rather than openly differing from their particular peer group, it is common that students remain quiet and let other individuals take the lead on discussions, regardless that they themselves have a differing opinion that may shed light on an issue and therefore, contributing to the class’ lecture. I feel this is an attribute that stems from Facebook, concerning the need to attract approval, as much as one can receive in real life as they do online. There is a dangerous situation occurring that is killing individualism and promoting conformity.

To conclude, Facebook is destroying individualism and ingenuity. It promotes conformity and isolation, leading individuals who use such social media sites to lose sight of one’s own sense of alignment. It promotes falsehood; the idea that what truly matters is how many “likes” one can receive on their profile, how well one can be liked in real life. It encourages conformity, to actively seek the approval of others even though one doesn’t necessarily agree to the stances of another or the ideals of another. People, particularly the youth are being shaped by these notions and from that they are losing a sense of who they are. Each and every person is a profound and incredible result of evolution, the ability to have reason and logic, to create and construct new pathways and ideals to benefit society. I was correct in my findings, the fact that Facebook indeed disparages and hinders self-identity, self worth and self-love. Active users who are not aware of the dangerous, lurking effects of social media fall victim to the coy, subconscious ploys that such media sites have on individuals. Yet, with this newfound information and if others choose to accept the truth, there is indeed hope. Awareness is the first step in changing anything. Changing whatever it is that plagues an individual, to be able to recognize that all is not what it seems. I would like to live to see a world in which each and every individual truly is an individual, with his or her own thoughts, mannerisms and ideals unique from anyone else.

References

Topic: Does social media actually bring people together?

Aaronson, J. (2014) The Isolation of Social Media. Clickz. Retrieved from: http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2336730/the-isolation-of-social-media

This article describes the harming effects that Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and other social media sites have on today’s youth. Designed as a means of communication between others with relative ease, it actually increasingly creates more isolation amongst those who use said sites. It also speaks on the fact that one-on-one interaction is becoming more and more valued and meaningful.

Greig, A. (2013) All the lonely Facebook friends: Study shows social media makes us MORE lonely and unhappy and LESS sociable. Daily Mail. Retrieved from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2419419/All-lonely-Facebook-friends-Study-shows-social-media-makes-MORE-lonely-unhappy-LESS-sociable.html

This article focuses primarily on the effects Facebook has on individuals, particularly with the increasing loneliness that users felt. Interestingly enough, it spoke on a study from Carnegie Mellon University that when interacting directly with friends on Facebook- whether sending messages, links or pictures on a wall, feelings of well-being and sociability increased. Yet, increased feelings of isolation and a decreased sense of well being occurs when an individual passively and aimlessly scroll down their Facebook feed and led to a decline in communication with others.

Hinton, S. (2013) Understanding social media. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE.

This novel focuses on exploring the evolution and functions of social media. It involves clear explanations of the development of popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as the potential future of said sites and social media in general.

Marche, S. (2012) Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? The Atlantic. Retrieved from: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/05/is-facebook-making-us-lonely/308930/

This article delves into a more scientific approach regarding the effects of Facebook. It mentions psychiatric studies from numerous organizations and has summed up that a considerable part of Facebook’s appeal stems from its illusion of intimacy. It delves into human nature, and speaks on the fact that people are now concerned on being Someone, with a capital “S” and this consumes our thoughts, shaping ourselves to be narcissistic and disconnected with the world around us.

Price, M. (2011) Alone in the crowd. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/06/social-networking.aspx

This articles focuses mainly on raising awareness regarding the dangers of social media and strategies for getting away from technology in order to nurture real life relationships. It speaks on the differences between men and women usage of social media as well as the reduction of intimacy in relationships. It also speaks on the benefits of solitude and taking time off of not just social media, but technology in general.

Rodman, G. (2012) Mass Media in a Changing World. New York, NY. McGraw-Hill.

This textbook focuses on the past, present and future of media, it’s various forms, and the effects it has on society.

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