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Has Social Media Destroyed a Generation?
There's no concept of weekends anymore
An ominous billboard grabbed my attention during my morning walk, a difficult feat to achieve at 6 a.m., slightly hungover. In elegant white letters it proclaimed:
"I Saw The Best Minds of My Generation Destroyed By Social Media."
Hm. Not an original thought – it's been around for a while – but that didn't stop me from thinking about how true the statement is.
Two seconds later, this pair of New York City fashionistas asked me if I could take a picture of them in front of it, presumably to post on Instagram. What’s happening today? Are the 7 hours and 4 minutes that the average American spends glued to screens daily a disaster in the making?
Has social media destroyed my generation?
I think there are three overwhelming arguments in favor of this question.
Modern people are constantly bombarded with information.
It’s to the point that you don't even get time to think anymore.
How could you not get exhausted?
With telephones, emails, messages, Instagram, Myspace, you're always solicited and it's tough to escape that socially. People are disappointed in you if you can't be joined at the hip. Not just socially speaking, but professionally, where your job can solicit you at anytime and you can't refuse to reply because you'll be fired.
According to Microsoft's most recent Work Trend Index, nearly 50% of employees and over half of managers are experiencing burnout.
You don't have time anymore for yourself. Even on holidays, your friends, families, social circle expect you to be wired in, and ready to digitally dance at a moment's notice.
To borrow a phrase from David Byrne, frontman of the Talking Heads, there's no such thing as weekends anymore. It's all one big, chaotic blur.
New Cigarette Companies
There is a growing case that Facebook, Instagram, and similar platforms are the new cigarette companies of the modern age. They knowingly create addictive and harmful products, potentially causing a public health crisis.
I think this is most known among teens and tweens.
The percentage of claims related to intentional self-harm in the 13 to 18 age group skyrocketed by 99.8% during the pandemic. This concerning trend is attributed mainly to the isolating effects of the lockdowns. Still, it is worth noting that self-harm has been on the rise for some time now, coinciding with the ubiquitous use of social media.
A teenage girl's greatest desire is to fit in and social media has made fitting in more challenging than ever.
It's comedic at this point. Zoomer girls are so concerned about fitting in and receiving attention that they will go into their phone settings and turn off auto-capitalization, allowing them to type in all lower-case when they type.
Apps like FaceTune, which allow you to PhotoShop yourself easily, were some of the most popular in the 2020s so that girls can hide their insecurities. It's so crazy that phone company Case24 found that 71% of people edit their selfies.
As for boys, they chase clout. They see these false representations of people and their lives on social media and then want to replicate them without strategy or purpose. 20 years from now, I think we'll look back on this period and think how crazy we were not to regulate social media for children.
Plato said democracy is the second worst form of government because it degenerates into mob rule. I think no place you see that more than in colleges.
Over half of professors admit to fearing job loss or damage to their reputation due to misinterpretation of their social media presence, taking things out of context, or uncovering past online posts, according to a survey from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE).
“I’ve been defending free speech on campus for twenty-two years now, and it was clear that things have been getting much worse over the past couple years,” FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff said. “But looking at these numbers, it’s even worse than I thought.”
There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is walking on eggshells around somebody and constantly watching what you say and do to avoid a blow-up. Universities once challenged beliefs and are now ruled by the social media mob.
We needed at least another couple of decades worth of the golden era of the internet to gain wisdom to control social media, but instead computing got easier and faster than it should have. It’s akin to your Dad bringing home a howitzer and letting the children figure out how to use it by trial and error.
And it is not that I’m a Luddite; after all, the word "technology" is a bastard child of the Greek word “techne” and techne means art.
Ultimately, however, what we are creating with this "technology" is an environment that is not meant for human beings to inhabit.
It’s moving too fast and we don’t know how to control it.