IS SOCIAL MEDIA TOXIC?

BY: VAIBHAVI MENON

We live in a generation where everything is controlled by social media and it is something that is normalized now. But if social media is seen as neither positive nor negative, what is true is that it leaves people fighting for views, claps, likes or praise. That affects both the younger and the older generations. The constant search for recognition and attention can have detrimental effects on our lives and leave us hurt or needing more attention. Increased use of social media can lead to a high chance of people feeling depressed, anxious etc.

Technically, you can switch off your mobile phone, or you can set up a time limit for your social media use. This will simply prevent you from using these platforms. Of course this is not so easy, as everyone is online, including our friends and families, with whom we would like to keep contact. This means we should be more ‘news literate’ and more educated about the news and any information we read online. For example, we should always check the source or the profile of the person who shares a suspicious post. We should also read from a wide range of sources, and not limit ourselves. Sharing something without reading it is a big no. Social media is toxic not just because it is addictive by design, but also because platforms spread disinformation and they encourage their users to engage with these fake news more than with fact checked ‘real’ news. As a consequence, disinformation spreads faster and reaches a wider audience. This has a toxic impact on public trust in democratic institutions like elections, governments or any public services. What it means is that our own democracy can be established and undermined by outside influences simply by exploiting the loopholes in today’s social media. Social media allows people to share their lives, but it also allows others to criticize, belittle, bully, and berate others on such a grand scale that it sometimes leads to depression and in extreme cases, suicide. I Young children are often hounded by “influencers” to buy merchandise, dress a certain way, eat certain foods, listen to specific music, and think a specific way in order to be accepted. The Logan Pauls and Kardashians of the Internet feed off of the image hungry youth. Even on Youtube and TikTok, everyone is wearing the same brand names, doing the same dance memes, and promoting the same diet or lifestyle products to cash in on the hoards of people watching and envious of the success. Showing off your newest car, handbag, watch, condo, or remote island beach house is no longer considered vain, shallow, or superficial. It’s now considered lucrative. Even on Medium, where words and ideas are King, the first step to getting anyone to read your story is the title and image. And to further cement your superior status, having a boat-load of claps and being published in a successful publication boosts your credibility.

taken control on our life and it makes the decision of what is right and what is wrong which can prove to be toxic because nothing is what it seems on social media. Its not reality.