BY Abelino Ruiz
The majority of Americans have some sort of social media network such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Pinterest. Users can create profiles, communicate with friends and strangers, do research, and share thoughts, photos, music , links, and more.
While social media can be good in moderation, the majority of it is desensitizing our culture. It reduces face to face contact, causes people to waste time, influences the behavior of children, exposes users to predators, and allows false information to spread at an alarming rate.
Social media allows people to spread information that is not true and can potentially cause public fear or panic. In 2012, rumors of fires, shootouts, and gunmen in a Mexico City suburb spread via Twitter and Facebook. People panicked and flooded the local police station with thousands of phone calls and schools were temporarily closed. After hurricane Sandy, one man on Twitter claimed that the New York Stock Exchange was flooded and the power company was going to cut all power throughout Manhattan. The news was picked up by CNN and The Weather Channel. One man can influence millions due to social media.
Privacy on social media is very limited and is often transparent, allowing the government and corporations to keep a close eye on people. According to freerepublic.com, the IRS training manual teaches their employees how to use Facebook and Twitter to look for information that may help “resolve a taxpayer case.” Nowadays, potential employers can scope out your social media before they hire you to see if you will represent their brand well. Most people leave their Facebook and Instagram pages open to the public. They should probably think twice about using that privacy option.
Students who are heavily dependent on social media tend to have lower grades. According to edtechmagazine.com, students who used social media had an average GPA of 3.06 versus non-users who had an average GPA of 3.82. Their studies showed that two-thirds of teachers believed that social media does more to inhibit students’ learning ability rather than help it. They also found that test scores of users were 20% lower than the students who didn’t use social media.
Social networking can cause stress and offline relationship problems. A University of Edinburgh Business School study found that the more friends a person has on Facebook, the more stressful the person finds Facebook to use. A separate but related study found that 15% of adults ended a friendly relationship due to an occurrence on social media.
In my opinion, social networking is the biggest waste of time in a person’s life. When we think of all the time-wasting activities that we do such as watching TV, playing video games, or casually socializing with friends, we can come to the conclusion that social media is the biggest time-waster of them all. Oftentimes, what happens is we get a notification for something, we check that alert, and then we stay on our phones for another half hour or forty-five minutes. Americans also spend way too much time playing FarmVille or Mafia Wars.
All in all, I think the vast collage of social media outlets are zombifying the American population. We are so enveloped in our handheld devices, that we lose track of time and space. It turns out that we don’t need guns and a large food supply after all. We just need a Nokia flip-phone and a cheap Sprint plan to avoid becoming one of them.