Impacts of Technology on Society

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Introduction

Humans are often identified as social creatures. This suggests that they seek out and enjoy the company of others. Traditionally, this sociability has been thought to be exclusive to certain groups and social statuses. People will approach people with whom they share a social rank. However, as technology has advanced, this viewpoint has shifted. People are moving up the social ladder and engaging with people from various backgrounds, age levels, and social ranks. The connections established across digital media seem to have supplanted more important real-life friendships. This paper describes the shift in communication and social interactions that have accompanied the advent and spread of the use of social media. It proposes that the use of these platforms has had a negative effect on social skills of the users.

The Need for Acceptance on Social Media

Social media has created a need for acceptance from its users. Individuals feel accepted and gratified when their posts on these interfaces are liked, shared or receive positive comments from other users (Venkatesh and Michael 116). This explains why individuals will forego relations with those around them and concentrate on gratifying their online friends. People will try to get as creative and impressive as possible in order to receive as many reactions as possible. In order to concentrate on social media, people fail to engage those close to them. For instance, individuals sharing a table in a restaurant can remain engaged with their devices most of the time. These people are in constant communication with other people who are far away. These interactions can be beneficial if combined with those of individuals around them. However, foregoing relations with family members and close friend in order to concentrate on these platforms affects the ability of individuals to communicate with those close to them and form real-life social relations.

Identity Theft on Social Media

Identity theft has become a common phenomenon on social media. People take up other people's identity and deceive other users into forming strong relations with them. People's trust towards each other is enhanced with continuous communication. When people communicate on social media, they trust each other (Sponcil and Gitimu 6). The messages get more open as time progresses. Eventually, one tends to fully trust the people on the other end. Despite this trust, individuals who have never met in person do not fully understand each other. This trust is often subject to betrayal. When one discovers that their trust in their online friend has been betrayed, they generalize the misdoings to the whole population. This mistrust may even spread to close friends and family members (Venkatesh and Michael 117). For instance, a woman who gets duped by a man on social media may generalize this to all men, including her siblings and close male friends, a person who gets extorted by a person from a certain place or race will generalize that all individuals from that place or race are cons. This will make them fear creating real-life friendships with certain people which would have been beneficial.

Trust and Abuse on Social Media

Trust on social media sites has made individuals susceptible to various forms of abuse. There are also cases where individuals have been cyber bullied or extorted through these platforms. When this happens, the affected individuals cannot seek support from those around them because their relations are not strong. Therefore, the victims get depressed and separated from the rest of the society. Another key aspect that affects the psychological wellbeing of individuals is information overload. A person can manage a limited number of relationships. However, social media tends to enable and individual to create an unlimited number of relationships that prove tedious to maintain. For instance, Facebook, which is one of the most common social media platforms, allows a personal account to befriend a maximum of 5000 people. Other social media sites do not have limits and this means that an individual can follow or be followed by millions or billions of other users. It is important to note that this number is very high and it would be strenuous for an individual to interact with all these people at once and gratify all of them. Generally, there is an information overload as one tries to make sense of everything that they receive from the people they interact with on social media platforms (Ronson n.p). This strains an individual because they have to spend long hours on the platforms. It results in lack of concentration at work, sleep deprivation and general inability to concentrate on important issues.

The Illusion of Friendship on Social Media

Friendship in normal life is usually based on values. Individuals spend time together because they share certain interests which they advance together. Social media friendships are based on the appearances of an individual and the impression that they create online. There are situations when a person creates a different impression from what they are. Individuals who receive much attention because of their appearance or sentiments online tend to have a strong sense of identity on these platforms. They find it hard separating their virtual actions from the actual ones. This leads to technology addiction. This is where an individual feels better when on social media platforms than in real life. On these platforms, they feel more appreciated and have a celebrity-like status which they may not necessarily have in real life.

Internet Addiction and its Effects

Internet addiction has detrimental effects on the mental wellbeing of an individual. Widyanto and Mark (42) notes that internet addiction is such a serious problem that the victims exhibit withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit. Sponcil and Gitimu (6) notes that human-human interactions are healthy and should be encouraged through different mediums. However, the technology factor gives individuals an opportunity to portray different personalities and interact on a different scale. Though disguised as human-human relations, interactions on social media are actually human-technology relations. Individual's attachment to the devices may lead to emotional shutdown and lack of concentration. This intimacy with technology is what pushes individuals into sharing information that can only be shared face-to-face. This information can be retrieved and be sent to undesired parties. Social media is characterized by people's desperation to please the masses. In 2015, Justine Sacco tweeted "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white" before boarding a plane to South Africa. It is hard to imagine that one could speak such sentiments to a multiracial crowd which in this case was virtual. Before she landed, her tweet had spread all over the world. She was cyberbullied, condemned by her family and even lost her job (Ronson n.p). Social media tends to make individuals forget about the real effect of their actions. The backlash and criticism after these actions is often harsh and can lead to depression.

Conclusion

Social relations are key in human development in various aspects. Individuals have to communicate and interact socially. The advent of social media revolutionized these interactions and communications. However, social media has resulted in tremendous changes that have started affecting human beings negatively. Interactions with individuals far away while foregoing those nearby has weakened interpersonal skills and resulted in various psychological effects. Individuals make false presentations of themselves on these platforms in order to gain acceptance. This has had a negative effect on the social wellbeing of the whole society.

Works Cited

Ronson, Jon. How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life. The New York Times Magazine, February 12, 2015. Web. 3 April 2017.

Sponcil, Megan, and Gitimu, Priscilla. "Use of social media by college students: Relationship to communication and self-concept." Journal of Technology Research 4 (2013): 1.

Venkatesh, Viswanath, and Michael, Morris. "Why don't men ever stop to ask for directions? Gender, social influence, and their role in technology acceptance and usage behavior." MIS quarterly (2000): 115-139.

Widyanto, Laura, and Mark, Griffiths. "‘Internet addiction’: a critical review." International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction 4.1 (2006): 31-51.

January 05, 2023
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Science Sociology

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Biology Communication

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Human Socialization People

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1312

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