Is Social Media Silencing Us?

As I sit here writing this post, I look down at my phone to see three new Snapchats, a Twitter notification, two Facebook updates, and an Instagram comment.

It’s overwhelming, yet oddly satisfying at the same time.

Social media has essentially taken over our society. It’s claiming our time and begging for our attention, but I cannot imagine a life without it. According to the article, “Why Use Social Media?” among American adults:

  • “87% use the web,
  • 68% connect to the web with mobile devices,
  • 90% own a cell phone, and 58% own a smartphone” (King, 2015).
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Photo Credit: Bethany Garcia

We live in a society where social media has become almost necessary for survival as it can be used for a diverse array of purposes. Everywhere we turn we are surrounded by messages telling us that we need to download this or that application so that we always have the latest and greatest social media platforms. It helps us stay in touch with friends and family, remember birthdays, get connected with future employers, and even share funny cat videos in our spare time. While I believe that social media has given us a voice, I feel like it has silenced us at the same time.

I’ll be the first to admit that I use social media daily. It’s the first thing I check in the morning and the last thing I check before going to bed. It has become almost an unhealthy routine, as I constantly find myself checking through the various forms all day long just to see if anything has changed in the last twenty minutes or so. I feel like in some ways I have become so dependent on the satisfaction of having social media available that I would experience withdrawals if it were taken away for even a day. According to Lawrence Wilson, MD, “psychologists are referring to this as a social networking compulsion or addiction” (Wilson, 2015).

The reality of that is a little shocking to me. Social media has become an addiction in our society.

David Lee King wrote in an online article, “As you might have guessed, there are also a lot of people using social media. 67% of US citizens ages 12 and up use social media of some type” (King, 2015). I think age plays a large role in how social media is used, but today I see most people using it positively for work purposes or to discuss common interests and unite under one cause. Most of the time I use social media to stay in contact with friends or follow what’s popular in the news, but as I have grown older I now also use it to establish a professional standing online. While social media plays such a powerful role in bringing people together, unfortunately it can also be used to tear people apart.

Communication is a huge benefit to social media. Alexandra Talpau wrote, “The power lies in the hands of the user, because the individual can, through a simple click, spread their ideas and opinions through social media to the whole world” (Talpau, 2015). When used properly social media can help network us together as a community with people we otherwise may have never met, but it can also be very detrimental. I feel that social media very much so takes away personal contact with people and inhibits our ability to communicate face to face. We never truly know who we are talking to on the other side of a screen and false or misleading messages can be spread like wildfire. I personally feel like I waste a lot of time on social media and find that it can interfere with school, work, and even my social life—the exact opposite of social media’s purpose.

Recently I have noticed that when spending time with friends at concerts, parties, or even just doing homework at the library, much of the attention is spent on how our time will be portrayed on social media. Instead of actually enjoying the concert we paid to see, we focus on taking videos to share later or making sure that we have just the right caption so that everyone knows we had a good time. Social media has made us live vicariously through a screen instead of taking in the realness of the world surrounding us with our own eyes, and I think that needs to change.

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“Zagreb, Croatia” by messicanbeer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

As our society continues to grow and expand over time, social media has evolved as well. Over the years I have seen social media change immensely from a way of sharing status updates to a form of communication that allows us to share ideas and knowledge with people both near and far away. We can get feedback fast, stay updated on news happening all over the world, and spread awareness about important causes in minutes. Every day social media continues to grow as more people are added to platforms and updates are made to applications and overall safety. As social media continues to expand and become more popular we will always run into new problems, but I think it is the way we address those problems that really shows our advancement in technology.

In my opinion, in order for us to appreciate social media and use it to its full potential, we must find the happy medium between the voice it gives us and the silencing we have allowed it to do.


Featured Image Credit:  Bethany Garcia

References

King, D. L. (2015). Why use social media? Library Technology Reports, 51(1), 6-9,2. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/1646465090? accountid=39473     

Talpau, A. (2014). SOCIAL MEDIA – A NEW WAY OF COMMUNICATION. Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Brasov.Economic Sciences.Series V, 7(2), 45-52. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/1658463166? accountid=39473

Wilson, Lawrence. (2015, March). Social Media Addiction. Retrieved from http://drlwilson.com/ARTICLES/ADDICTION,%20SOCIAL%20M.htm

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