Last Saturday was World Mental Health Day, I couldn’t think of a better time to watch the documentary The Social Dilemma. Social media has started to show a negative impact on people at many levels way before the pandemic started. This is a very interesting film to watch as it gathers several former employees from big companies such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. They are very worried about future generations and this is why.
The former employees showcased in this documentary are all pretty young… That’s because social media haven’t existed for too long yet! Sometimes we tend to forget there used to be a time when we didn’t have social media. I was already 22 years old when I discovered Facebook (back in 2007), so at least I went through the difficult teenage years in high school without it. But some youngsters have grown up with it and don’t know any different than online connections being their primary connections. What impact did it have on them? Well, according to this documentary, the suicide rate among girls aged 15-19 has increased by 77% compared to last decade and by 151% among girls aged 10-14 in the United States. These girls are the first generation using social media since middle school. It’s not a coincidence.
Of course young girls are not the only ones impacted, everyone is. At the end of the day, all social media are competing for your attention with the ultimate goal of making as much money as possible. They collect as much data as they can to hack people’s psychology and build models to predict their actions. The level of information available is unprecedented, everything is monitored. Have you ever noticed you and your friends were not targeted by the same ads? And how the ads you see vary based on what you’ve just typed or even said?
“If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.”
Any addiction is dangerous and they make sure you’re addicted to your screen so they can keep making profit. Nowadays, most people waste a lot of time on social media when they’re bored. It’s an easy way to kill time. What worries me the most is the way it changes our values to a point we don’t know who we are anymore. We are in constant search for social approval and would do anything to fit in. When I realised that, I decided to delete my personal Facebook account 2 months ago…
I haven’t missed it since. I realised I needed to share my thoughts more than I needed to share a stupid chain I didn’t even relate to. What I needed was to write for an audience of people I didn’t know in real life. That’s why I started this blog 2 weeks ago, it is not shared with anyone in my network. It’s just you – complete online stranger – and me. That way, I don’t censor myself. I’m not looking for social approval from my friends, I’m just looking for genuine followers who want to talk about the same things.
My conclusion? Ok to social media but only if its use is restricted. In my opinion, all kids and teenagers should grow up without it but it’s impossible to control. At least make sure you set time for yourself without any distraction, ban your phone when you eat and when you’re spending time with someone in real life for example (even if it happens less often nowadays). It’s time to change the conversation.
Big Girl x