Essay on Why Social Media Is Bad

This essay on why social media is bad is primarily for students. The intention is to use straightforward English and to describe the problems in a straightforward manner. They are mainly personal views. People should form their own views.

People the world over have embraced social media. They love it. They love the advantages that it brings. It allows them to communicate across borders on a multiplicity of subjects, to make friends and acquaintances and to explore other cultures. A lot of good comes out of social media. In the animal rescue world, a lot of animals are successfully rescued with the assistance of social media and I am mainly referring to Facebook in this instance.

So, let’s not forget the good that is comes from social media. We are now learning what is bad about this rapidly developing phenomenon. The first problem that comes to mind is one elucidating by former president Barrack Obama. He says that social media can lead to the “balkanisation of our society”. That’s a big word but I think what he intends to mean is that it can polarise opinion. Social media can reinforce one’s biases because you migrate to those places where people praise you and agree with you – where you make Facebook friends and acquire Facebook “Likes” which are often meaningless. You are less likely to find common ground on the basic fundamentals of life. If social media does polarise society, then it fragments it and creates a more hostile world.

Facebook ‘Likes’ also feeds into humankind’s insecurity. Users are constantly seeking reassurance. It can be addictive. Perhaps it is a form of false support. It is better to be independent through self-help.

Another point made by Barack Obama is that social media needs to be used wisely and harnessed. A lot of people use it, abuse it and are used by it. The Internet giants such as Facebook collect data on the users of their website and use it both for and against them in the interests of making a profit for Facebook. It is a form of ‘Big Brother’ as described by George Orwell in his novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four”. Ultimately Facebook is about turning a profit for its owners and shareholders. It is not a charity. When a company is heavily focused on making a profit the morality of the company can be distorted and the company can work against its users in a subtle way.

Facebook users can be directed towards adverts customised for them which can encourage users to do something that they would not normally do. Facebook gathers data from users to find those who are gullible. They target them with ads as they are more likely to bite the bait.

Third parties are alleged to use Facebook to interfere with elections and to promote a hidden agenda. I’m referring to the allegation that the Russian government has interfered with the US elections via the creation of fake news. Countries can foment hostilities within another country by disseminating fake news on social media websites such as Facebook. Let’s not forget that billions of posts and comments are made on Facebook. There is massive exposure to some posts and articles especially when they become viral. Manipulators have woken up to the power of social media to change minds.

There’s also the important and pressing issue of how social media affects young people particularly young girls. There’s lots of peer pressure. Often people present an image of themselves on social media which is not faithful. They present something more perfect than they are. They create a fantasy world and they acquire lots of ‘Likes’ and admiration. Other girls and boys may become disillusioned and may acquire a negative self-image which affects their confidence and self-esteem. There have been stories of young people being driven to mental health conditions such as anorexia through overuse of Facebook. At the extreme end there have been suicides filmed live in Facebook due to encouragement from others.

On January 4th 2018, The Times newspaper, reported on “Children link self-worth to ‘Likes’ on social media”. The parents of children post images and videos on Facebook or Twitter (called ‘sharenting’) and their children become upset because they are desperate for validation through Facebook ‘Likes’ and comments which are not always forthcoming. Many kids in their first year at secondary school become dependent on receiving ‘Likes’. These kids see life through the lens of social media which is potentially damaging to self-esteem and confidence. These are young, vulnerable and impressionable children. Their psychological development is vitally important in order to live contented lives.

In the UK, the Schools Commissioners Group has suggested that the government make it obligatory for schools to provide classes on ‘internet literacy’. In other words, to ensure that children are educated on the dangers of social media.

Constant use of social media promotes inactivity. It arguably promotes obesity. If people especially young people spend all their time in front of their smart phone interacting with other users on social media, they are failing to do something which was done regularly 30 or 40 years ago which is to exercise. To be outdoors and interact head-to-head, face-to-face with other people in play or discussion. If ‘play’ is always done in their heads on social media the physical aspects of life suffer.

From a personal standpoint, I dislike the way that social media is very reluctant to take down abusive posts, images, videos and articles on a range of topics including hate speech. The owners of Facebook and Twitter wish to preserve freedom of speech and expression. This is natural and normal but they overdo it. This allows people to abuse their right of freedom of speech by for example promoting animal abuse on Facebook. There are numerous instances of videos of animal abuse on Facebook which have remained on that website despite protestations from users towards the administrators to take them down. Facebook admits that its moderators have made incorrect decisions in almost half of cases flagged for investigation. Posts calling for the death of Muslims for example were not removed. The issue here is that Facebook administrators simply don’t have a handle on the problem as it is too large.

Other nasty people promote animal abuse in their words and once again these articles are not deleted by Facebook administrators. This reluctance to delete abusive material has included terrorist material and it extends beyond social media to Google. Google owns YouTube and there had been hundreds of instances of videos encouraging paedophile behaviour and terrorism which have remained on that site for years in some instances despite attempts to have them removed. The Times newspaper in the UK instigated a campaign against Google to remove paedophilic and terrorist videos. This is showing signs of success but once again the owners of these Internet giants are very reluctant to censor users. They overplay that hand. Sometimes there is an obvious and pressing need to censor.

In Germany a new law (NetzDG) came into force on 1st Jan 2018. It gives online service providers 24 hours following a complaint to take down material which has been deemed to be illegal, hate speech or fake news. In the USA the attitude towards freedom of speech is radically different. The First Amendment says “Congress should make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”. This is religiously upheld against all logic by Google.

To return finally to animal rescue which is an area in which I’m interested. Occasionally you will find on Facebook, immoral people and cat hoarders involved in raising funds from decent animal lovers in a deceitful and fraudulent manner. They do this for money and for esteem. If you can’t meet people face-to-face as you can’t on social media you can’t really read the person and understand them better. As mentioned, they present to the world a cleaned-up image of themselves and their views to manipulate good-natured people. Social media is a breeding ground for this sort of person. It is somewhat lawless as is the entirety of the Internet. The truth is that YouTube and Facebook don’t have the means to control user input. These businesses are out of control to a certain extent.

I have to mention one irritating aspect of social media: 90% of it is banal chat lacking in any usefulness. And President Trump’s tweets got him into an awful lot of trouble. Damn it, WW3 could start with a tweet!

Communist quasi-dictatorships such as China tend to censor social media to avoid social unrest. Iran has blocked social media during the protests which are on the news at the moment. These governments would argue that social media can be bad as it undermines governments and social cohesion. Of course, the people protesting would say the opposite. In this instance social media is a vehicle for good.

One final point about the Internet giants such as Facebook. They don’t pay their due in terms of taxes. They use complicated rerouting of funds to offshore accounts to substantially lower their profit and therefore end up paying very low corporation tax. This is unacceptable and demonstrates to us their lack of concern for social welfare and an overemphasis on an immoral approach towards maximising financial profit.

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The title might sound bizarre; as if written by an animal abuser. Quite the contrary. Please read the entire article and please don't skim it or speed read it. I am all for freedom of speech, one of the pillars of human society enshrined in the constitution of many countries. And Elon Musk, who owns Twitter, is strongly for giving Twitter users free-rein to more or less say and show what they like even if it is highly unpleasant as is the case with the Yulin dog meat trade and market in China. I am all for fighting this horrendously cruel human behavior. The cruelty needs to be aired on social media. BUT, there is a limit to this. Twitter knows that I am interested in animal welfare which means that this social media platform automatically serves me videos and images from the dog meat markets of Asia that are simply unpalatable. They are impossible to look at. Constant publication of animal abuse images on Twitter desensitizes the average citizen and pushes away the sensitive animal advocate and is counterproductive. There needs to be a balanced approach in which animal abuse images and videos are shown to educate people but where a warning is given to allow readers to make an informed choice. - MikeB I take an alternative stance on this topic in another article (click to see it if you wish) and it sounds as if I am contradicting myself but I'm not. I am seeking a balance which protects the viewers while airing the important topic of animal welfare which includes on occasions showing images of animal abuse. [caption id="attachment_171262" align="alignnone" width="810"] Twitter animal abuse videos and images can be counterproductive. Image: MikeB[/caption] Desensitizing the average viewing public I have to skip past them by scrolling down the Twitter page as fast as possible. Twitter administrators are not doing their job with sufficient vigor or commitment. Or they think it is okay for the general public to see horrendous animal cruelty. Seeing this stuff can harm the viewer psychologically. The end result is a world in which a dog has been harmed through gross cruelty and a human who's been harmed by viewing the gross animal cruelty. What's the point? The users who tweet cat and dog cruelty in Asia need to be reminded that they can get their message across about the cruelty of the Asian dog and cat meat markets WITHOUT showing pornographic videos and still images that break the heart. The same applies to any animal cruelty. I have seen many tweets by animal rescue organisations showing unpalatable images of injured or diseased cats and dogs. They are too difficult to view. They should not be published on Twitter. Surely there has to be a limit to protect the public, particularly children? These images and videos may inure children to animal cruelty. They may become desensitized to it. This would have a negative impact in the fight for better animal welfare in the future. Words only sometimes Twitter administrators should introduce a rule which makes it mandatory to use words only or acceptable pictures when hammering home the point about dog and cat cruelty in Asia. Words are enough if they are used to maximum effect. Twitter could jazz up the platform to make the presentation of words more interesting. At the moment is all the same format and font. It is dull. Add different fonts, different sizes and different colours. Glorifying abuse I learned this years ago. Users of the internet including website owners can't glorify animal abuse. They can't try and obtain shock value by presenting gruesome animal abuse. In doing so they will probably push away sensitive animal advocates who they need to support the movement against Yulin dog meat festival and markets. Think of a different way to fight the cruelty. To simply post sickening videos which cannot be watched by anyone with a modicum of decency won't work for the vast majority of social media users. It just puts them off and makes them shut the horrors out of their minds. PETA PETA's M.O. is to shock the public with horrible animal abuse videos and images. I understand this. But once again, it can be overdone and it can end up being counter-productive for the reason stated. It can desensitise. Sickening images need to be published with great caution and in a regulated way in order that they may maintain their impact and be an effective tool against animal cruelty and in support of animal welfare.

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6 thoughts on “Essay on Why Social Media Is Bad”

  1. You have accurately stated how to begin your own motovlog, but there is one flaw. You’ll need subscribers so that you can show this blog to others. They were purchased for Verified Social Media Accounts . The pricing was right for me, and I was able to become a popular blogger as a result of them.

  2. There’s a fine line at freedom of speech that is constantly being stomped on. While some claim they have the right to say anything they want regardless, others believe that right has limits. No one should be allowed to make any statement without being held responsible for the content of that statement.
    Using the animal abuse examples (WHICH I DO NOT CONDONE!):

    If the statements and violent videos towards animals really is free speech, then stand up and take the repercussions of your actions like an adult! Otherwise, keep your opinions to yourself.

    My parents and grandparents taught me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. That applies to all forms of free speach!

    1. Pleased that you agree. I am going to add some more information to that page today! Every day there is more to dislike about social media.

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