Social media’s dense networking and ease of international connection has connected humanity like never before; ensuring common knowledge of international/national affairs, and the opportunity to rally for or against them in a powerfully unified voice. Nonetheless, social studies encouraged by anxieties concerning our increasing dependence on social media, indicate possible negative repercussions to our ‘real-life’ presence and social skills.
Psychological scholar Rebecca Harris (2016) suggests social media is greatly contributing to loneliness within society. However is it truly sensible to conclude that/ a device of such powerful connection as social media is responsible for such disconnection? Assistant professor Hayeon Song’s (‘Science Daily’ 2014) study indicates that, in fact, the positive correlation between loneliness and social media use isn’t indicative of causation. Song concluded social media attracted the lonely; remarking social media, instead, to be beneficial in many cases as it allowed “…people who are shy or socially awkward a chance to connect with others in a way that’s more comfortable for them…”. However, whilst social media’s causing loneliness can be credibly disclaimed, it appears to have significantly contributed to societal narcissism.
Cultural critics often conclude social media’s overwhelming social presence and user-generated content has led to self-promotion and a narcissism epidemic. Professor Twenge (2012) further dubs those born in the 1980s and 90s to be “Generation Me”. However, while social media platforms attribute to this, they cannot be held solely responsible; research by Shawn Bergman (2012) showing one’s personality is generally ingrained by the age of 7, well before creation of a social media account is permitted. This leads Doctor of Psychology Vivian Diller (2015) to suggest the said rise in narcissistic traits is not necessarily representative of a rise in pathological narcissism itself, but instead merely a condition of social media’s accessibility and its emphasising the desire for attention/validation. Thus, it is too simple to dub society’s narcissistic traits as a repercussion of social media alone. Moreover, there are various studies, such as that of Sociologist Keith Hampton (2011) that claim social media and technology to positively affect their users, making us better “social beings”.
Social media and technology have significantly altered our methods and forms of communication in both our personal and professional lives. Whilst anxieties have arisen regarding this extensive alteration and new-found dependence, their basis’ are not so commonly to be found within social media or technology themselves, but within the fundamental flaws/vulnerabilities of their users.
October 9th 2014, “Does Facebook make you lonely?”, ScienceDaily, viewed 14/03/2016, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141009163418.htm
Diller Vivian, March 23rd 2015, “Social media: A Narcissist’s Virtual Playground”, Huffpost Healthy Living, viewed 14/03/2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vivian-diller-phd/social-media-a-narcissist_b_6916010.html
Firestone Lisa, 2012, “Is Social media to Blame for the Rise in Narcissism?”, PsychAlive:Psychology for Everyday Life, viewed 14/03/2016, http://www.psychalive.org/is-social-media-to-blame-for-the-rise-in-narcissism/
Gambino Megan, July 10th 2011, “How technology Makes Us Better Social Beings”, Smithsonian.com, viewed 14/03/2016, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-technology-makes-us-better-social-beings-28986845/?no-ist
Harris Rebecca, March 30th 2015, “The loneliness epidemic: we’re more connected than ever – but are we feeling more alone?”, Independent, viewed 14/03/2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/the-loneliness-epidemic-more-connected-than-ever-but-feeling-more-alone-10143206.html
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