How Social Media has Caught us on a Web

Maria Tariq
7 min readApr 4, 2021

We cannot deny the blessings social media has provided to humanity. It has found lost family members. It has found organ donors. But only a handful of people can see the flip side of the coin.

We have transitioned from the information age to the disinformation age. For instance, in recent times, during the COVID pandemic, there was a blast of fake information. Information without any scientific backing.

If we observe past inventions, they were merely tools to make life easier. But today these tools have become manipulative machines. They are far more complex than your brain.

This is an alarming situation because these companies are playing with human futures in return for profit. It means few people impact the lives of millions of people just like a magic spell.

Science behind Algorithms

The algorithm in simple words means social media intelligence. These algorithms track you. They know everything about your personality, interests, likes, dislikes. They predict your actions. They need your attention to increase your social media time span.

The goal is very simple i.e., marketing and sales. Let me give you a few examples which you are using without realization. And these activities increase the business numbers of these tech companies.

· Likes and Comments

Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

· Tagging

· Snapchat streaks

· Typing ellipsis

· Growth hacking

· Recommendations in the form of videos and posts

· Surrogate advertising

· Influencer branding

Your next question will be, “how do they it”? well they have a combined system of giant computers and human minds to steal your data. In short, it is their advertising model.

Now you will be thinking in a capitalist environment, it is everyone’s right to make money and get rich. But here is the catch these engineer minds are risking your lives to generate economic incentives. We are like those lab rats on which scientists experiment. But those experiments are done to benefit human beings. In the world of social media algorithms, these experiments have nothing to do with your advantage.

The Term “Social media addiction”

Social media addiction is the problematic use of social media affecting day-to-day life. It resembles a casino where drug addicts are gambling without caring about time and energy wastage.

It is said:

“There are only two industries which call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software “

Effects of Social Media Addiction

Now we have understood the term, let us see how it influences us.

Ø Mental health issues

Excessive social media use provokes mental health issues. Specialists term these psychological disorders. For example

Nomophobia- Defined as the state of anxiety when you are not near your phone.

Snapchat dysmorphia- Obsession to get a picture-perfect face like Instagram and Snapchat filters.

Misuse of social media has also led to social issues like propaganda, cancel culture, and war.

Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash

Ø Neurological Disorders

Let us understand it through the concept of Dopamine Voids. Dopamine is a feel-good hormone. Whenever a notification or like hits your phone there is a dopamine rush. And the sad part is this vicious cycle repeats in our brain so that we can seek instant pleasures.

Photo by Michael Dagonakis on Unsplash

Mobile phone screen emits blue light which affects melatonin production. Melatonin induces sleep. In this way, the mobile phone is disturbing your sleep quality.

Ø Physical deformities

The posture in which we surf the sites is dangerous. Every 15-degree bend in your neck adds 8kg of weight to your back.

These postural changes aggravate.

· Breathing problems,

· Cervical issues

· Vertigo

· Dizziness

· Slipped disc.

· Weak muscle strength

· Shoulder strain

Another underrated point is the wrong use of hands while using the phone. We often use the thumb for scrolling which is the most unstable joint.

Ø Lack of self-esteem and self-confidence

Social media has let people create a virtual image and fake popularity of themselves. That is why people feel low on self-esteem while using social media. We are technically not trained to get approvals and validation of millions of people.

Photo by Oskar Skowronek on Unsplash

Ø Impact on GenZ and millennials

The young generation is prone to be more fragile and sensitive. They struggle in their decision-making ability because of their underdeveloped minds. Their restricted physical activity and movement, in turn, lead to health disorders.

According to the findings, 43 percent of female teen internet users had reported that they could not go without their smartphone for less than one day, while only 33 percent of male teen internet users had stated similar responses.

During the April 2019 survey, 10.1 percent of cyberbullying victims had been impersonated online during the last 30 days. Cyberbullying includes unwanted contact by threatening or insulting the respondent via digital communications as well as sharing private information online. Overall, 36.5 percent of U.S. middle and high school students have ever been cyberbullied.

Ø Social anxiety

Most people who have an urge to check social media frequently have a fear of missing out on something. They are anxious about losing their social networks.

Solutions

In an idealistic world, the masterminds should address the issue. But instead to wait for their rules and regulations create your own.

Ø Identifying the problem

It is the fundamental step. if you feel the symptoms of social media addiction, take it as a problem. Only then you will be able to move on and find solutions.

Ø Understanding the level of your addiction

Addiction is subjective from person to person. So, try to observe the level of your addiction. You can certainly reverse your condition through neuroplasticity.

Ø Turn off the notifications.

By turning off the notifications you will feel relieved. That constant pop-up of notification increases your urge to pick up the phone.

Ø Manage your color psychology.

We as humans are very sensitive to colors. That is why you will see the icons of different social media apps colorful and attractive. The owners design it so. There is a feature of bedtime mode in both apple and android. It will instantly make your phone boring.

Ø Create balance.

Balance is the most used yet not so impactful term. Try to create a balance between your virtual and the real world. Do not use your phone after waking up and going to bed. Because at that time your mind needs to relax.

Ø Self-control

Differentiate between addiction and constructive use of social media. Do not binge on phone. Use it whenever you have work, or you want to watch something. After finishing the task put it back immediately.

Ø Digital detox

Detox once a month from your gadgets. Replace the phone with hobbies. Learn creative skills. Work on self-contemplation. Read books and write a journal.

Ø Get therapy.

If the situation worsens, do not hesitate to get therapy. There are a lot of rehab centers available to treat digital addiction. I have linked one of them below.

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