Our generation has grown up with tablets in our hands at all times, phones used as maps, and answers at the click of a button. This gives an insane amount of power to not only technology but to the people that create it. The question remains, is that power positively or negatively impacting our world?
As children, we were told to spend car rides looking out the window and enjoying the ride. Now, kids are being handed an iPad with an endless amount of screen time. Within our society, there are many different aspects such as political, cultural, economic. The scary part is that upon the rise of technology, every single one of those aspects is being impacted by social media. Politicians are vocal via social media platforms, young girls are taught what society deems as “perfection”, and full-time, paid jobs are created for social media “influencers”.
Let’s start with politics within social media. In 1789, George Washington wasn’t able to tweet every time he needed to make an announcement. Now, it is much easier for politicians to express their concerns or celebrate an accomplishment. With that power, also comes consequences, and we’ve seen that first hand with former President Donald Trump being banned from various social media platforms. Amongst all of the controversy surrounding freedom of speech and social media, it is still incredible to see how a group of people can be swayed by a single tweet. However, once you make it known that you are interested in a certain topic or opinion by liking it, that platform will feed into the interest and continue to show you similar posts. Although this sounds like a good thing, it may block other opinions and close one’s mind entirely when it comes to a certain view or policy. The issue with social media and politics is that people just see something they find interesting or even appalling, and share it without fact-checking or considering the source.
Next is the social/cultural aspect of our society. Teenagers have been fixated on the number of likes and comments on their posts for so long that they allow those numbers to consume them. These numbers ultimately affect how they think of themselves and can lead to a number of mental health issues. Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, Ph.D., a professor at the NYU Stern School of Business, explains that “social media starts to dig deeper and deeper down into the brain stem and take over kids’ sense of self-worth and identity.” The other issue with social media is that it becomes highly addictive, like a drug. Especially with the pandemic, teens tend to spend most of their days online which can affect them physically, mentally, and emotionally.
From an economical standpoint, this is where they all collide. The new Netflix documentary, “The Social Dilemma”, goes into so much detail about how we are literally the product to these big tech companies. Our attention is being sold to advertisers with each click. A spine-chilling quote from the movie, “Social media is a marketplace that trades exclusively in human futures.” Even with these intimidating words, there was obviously a positive impact this kind of technology was presented for, like the idea of working as a social media manager or influencer. Young adults and technology have made it possible to work on your own hours, in your own home, all on your phone. This is a very exciting advancement and can affect the economy in a positive way.
Social media brings the good and the bad, and although it may seem like a scary (or not so scary) place, depending on your own opinion on the matter, we as a society are progressing. When we progress, we need to make advancements, and social media is this generation’s huge advancement. With this advancement comes a lot of power, and it affects everyone.