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May 20, 2022

We are in the technology era which has mid-wifed the strong growing social media disruptions all around us. Our communication landscape is now dotted with several social media companies like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Snapchat, TikTok, and Youtube just to mention a few who wield significant influence over the lives of billions of people.

The days are now gone by when arriving late to the newspapers vendors meant being backdated on happenings; when businesses can only function “in-person;” when “seeing a movie” only meant going to the cinemas; when losing contact with an old school friend meant losing a friend.

Social media has made knowledge and education about good and evil to be at the fingertips of users at the speed of light. National elections of countries can now be determined by the tweet of a controversial message, while terrorists can also recruit globally through such platforms.

Many people have re- channelled their skills and strengths to reap the tremendous benefits that abound; A case in point is how much social media sites like Youtube, Facebook and TitTok have been known to pay consistent influencers and content creators over time. Not to mention exposing marketable skills and talents to appropriate platforms across the globe.

However, there are underlying contradictions on the ease the social media era portends, to the event that news reports and surveys abound linking social media to anomalies as elaborated below:

Mental health issues
With the spate at which ill-meaning people, hiding under the guise of fake and anonymous social media identities abuse, bully, slander and wound the personality of others with impunity, the mental health of those at the butt of these attacks is likely to be tampered with.

Sadly, even with certain media sites placing ban features on word choices over time, a world wherein this would completely stop is almost unattainable, as humans will remain humans— there will always be the cautious and kind lots as well as the intentionally callous. Also, with many social media sites enabling the posting of videos, many have thrown caution to the wind by posting videos that can worsen the conditions of people with existing mental vulnerabilities without warning.

The up-turn of morality
The reality in rich countries and even developing economies is that young people have smartphones, tablets and computers before they’re even 16, and have social media accounts which they mostly explore unguarded and unsupervised.

And given the curiosity and vulnerability of the persons within this age demographic, together with the fact that social media platforms have developed models whereby people don’t get to only post and view texts but also videos, indeed corruptive and less-than-pleasant content can cause moral depravity for these ones.

Undue pressure and depression
There is a high chance that some people cause undue pressure on others into depression and criminality by portraying incredible, glamourous, affluential and unrealistic lifestyles. While it makes sense to encourage people to be honest in their posts, this too cannot change— The “fake it till you make it” mantra is a lived human experience.

Panic attacks, sleep disorders, decrease in life expectancy
For instance, a survey spotted on Our World in Data shows a 90% proportion of young people and teens spending approximately 4 hours on average every day on social media. This addiction undoubtedly hampers valuable sleep time, which in turn brings about other rippling health damages;

Memory loss and short attention span
These are one of those attendant repercussions reported by health experts; the increasing curiosity that comes with scrolling through several contents at the same time could well result in anxiety issues leading to the inability, in the long run, to dwell on content of positive import long enough.

This is probably one of the earliest damages social media usage portended. Although warnings and precautionary messages are now rife, this has not been completely curtailed as dubious people are frequently on social media in search of unsuspecting victims.

As eradication is neither a possibility nor a favourable option, the most practical precautionary move is for people to apply discretion and a personal sense of conviction even as they assess content on social media, and for developers to modify their bandwidths to promote more positive content and stave off fraudsters and people with dubious content, much more than the reporting features we already have on most social media sites.

Nevertheless, social media holds such immense benefits that this generation hopes to continually enjoy. Indeed, in the words of Daniel Morris on ShropshireStar.com, “Social media is now a cog without which the machine of the world would struggle to function.”