Social media is breaking down a generation


Audrey Choate, Managing Editor

The advent of social media in the early 20th century fundamentally changed human communication and its impact on the world. It was something that, for many, was the hallmark of a distant and hopeful future; a future that would revolutionize the almost completely analog world of the previous century. Truly, it seemed to many as something described in a fantastical science-fiction series or a quixotic hope for the future. However, the starry-eyed idealism of the onset of social media services seems to have largely faded. Perhaps, despite the glimmer and grandeur of instant long-distance communication, the technology is not totally without flaw.

An obvious detriment of a certain type of social media usage is the gradual antagonism of critical thought. While a condemnation of all types of mass electronic communication is clearly flawed, it is not Luddite-esque to question how social media impacts the way people think. Independent research to prove one’s claims is en vogue no more; to attract like-minded individuals, all one needs to do is create a video that glitters with flashing lights and catchy pop-music. News headlines decry this phenomenon with terms such as “misinformation,” but neglect to recognize the true significance of such patterns. Many are not just misled, but are actively opposed to the idea of truth itself.

Social media is inherently seductive in nature; many websites are specifically designed to keep one’s attention for as long as possible. For many, social media provides an endless stream of dopamine, an escape from the stressors of everyday life. While many commentators remark that young people should simply go outside in lieu of phone usage, they fail to consider what “outside” has become. It is not a surprise that, as a reaction to growing environmental concerns and endless suburbanization, many would rather stay inside. Indeed, in most of American suburbia, the best place outside of the digital world to connect with friends seems to be the nearest grocery store or a dying mall nearby. 

The average woman or girl that frequents social media is constantly met with a sea of beauty advertisements and subtle promotions of ever-changing beauty standards. It is a true mark of a deeply sick society in which eighteen and nineteen year old girls are urged to start early Botox in order to prevent wrinkles later in life, to remove the buccal fat that cushions and protects their face, and to undergo increasingly dangerous and perilous procedures to fit a wealthy beauty executive’s idea of the ideal womanly form. The end goal of this is, as most things in America seem to be, to pursue a profit, even at the cost of the sanity of young girls. 

However, even considering all of its flaws and negative impacts, there still remains something quite awe-inducing and marvelous about the instant, worldwide communication network that social media brings. Perhaps many do not realize the true significance of the handheld mobile device that they use every day, that within it lies the summation of human intellect and prowess, and the poetry and meaning of everyday life.