Technology has advanced over the years and affected people differently in terms of individuality and the society as a whole. The field of psychology is continuously evolving and currently, technology has been incorporated in order to study the functioning of the human mind. Moreover, technology causes many effects on peoples’ psychology. It does not only affect one’s mind, but also the feelings, including the impact it has on their one’s social health. In the last century, there have been numerous technological breakthroughs related to the interpersonal communication, including telegraph, telephone, radio, and television. The latest type of technology is the internet, which combines the same features, such as the ability to bridge long distances, including gathering audience.
With the advancement of the internet, people, and especially teenagers, can have easier access pornography sites, and it has become a source of addiction which takes the precious time that one could spend with his family and friends. Consequently, there is an increasing of depression and loneliness among the users as well as weakening both family and community ties. In Sherry Turkle’s book Alone Together, the author writes that people function as robots due to the fact that the humans do not have connections with the real world today and prefer to build and maintain their relationships over the internet. Turkle also states that human beings leave their intimacies and companionship to technology; they confuse friends, chats, and tweets with authentic communication. However, this kind of connection results in to a different kind of solitude that is occasioned by technological advancement and this paper seeks to examine that. This paper will look into how technology affects people’s feelings about themselves as well as its effects on the overall social health. Aspects such as bullying on social sites as well as its overall effects on an individual’s self-esteem will be discussed.
Although some people consider the internet as a universal remedy for many issues, there are others who fear that it has become the certain curse. However, one may agree with the fact that it continues transforming the society. The reality is that the internet is developing fast to become a natural part of everyday life. The humans live in the world that is now being referred to as the “digital era” where almost everything relies on technology and the internet. Moreover, the latter is now an inevitable part of the children’s lives, and the researchers consider that some children have been raised by the internet. It is considered as an advantage because the people can search any information they need on the internet. However, it has gone to such extent that technology is acting as a parenting guide to some grown-ups, and they refer to it whenever they want to know how to discipline and generally raise their children. Nowadays, the teenagers aged13 have computers, which they use to chat with their friends on the social media sites. Internet addiction is an actual problem and requires attention since there are people who cannot live without the internet for a few hours and behave in the same way as a drug addicted person who does not take his drug at the right moment.
People mainly use the internet to communicate with their friends, family, business associates, and acquaintances in order to maintain interpersonal relationships. There is a consensus with regard to the fact that the internet can impact social life significantly although the point of contention is how it can be possible and the value of this kind of impact. This paper will seek to define how technology, especially the internet, impacts the social life. It will review the impact of technology on one’s social health and also delve into the connection that social media sites have with one’s self-esteem.
Importance of Social Media
Using social media sites has positive and negative consequences. Social media serves for more important purposes that cyber bullying and taking selfies. When it is used moderately and with the right intentions, it can assist one to achieve positive results was according to the set intention. In this regard, this paper will also discuss the advantages of the social media. It is an astounding fact that a social networking site can enable a person to find a long-lost friend, making it possible for such a person to restore connection with him. The current society is mobile, and it happens that the couples are often separated geographically. Therefore, technology is very crucial for such people since it enables them to have permanent connection. Technology allows creation of meaningful relationships with others through sending emails, sharing photos, text messages, music and videos, etc. There are people who practice online relationships, then meet each other and continue their contact. Some of these relationships develop to the meaningful levels.
The internet is able to connect people with similar interests. A good example is war veterans who may feel abandoned in their usual society when they return home due to the fact that their family members and friends may not know how to behave them or understand their difficult experience. This can make them feel alone and isolated, especially when there are no other war veterans in their neighborhood. However, when these groups of people meet over the internet, they are able to share their experiences and interests. This can help them overcome the sense of isolation they have. If one feels outcast from his community, he turns to the internet where he connect with people having similar pursuits and interests.
Experts in the social media claim that using these sites does not necessarily disassociate people from the real world, but it can be a means of reviving and preserving relationships. It is common that the students who fight with self-esteem refer to the social media in order to contact others going through the same challenge and encourage each other to overcome that situation. According to the research, introverted adolescents have a chance of using social media to gain social skills. This could be partly due to the fact that shy individuals feel much safer showing their personality when behind the computer screen or smart phone/device.
People often face racism and prejudice as a result of belonging to a minority group, but the internet can conceal this matter. This is due to the fact that the internet is able to upset the reflective operation surrounding racial stereotypes better than it may be achieved off-line. For example, according to the conducted studies, African Americans and Hispanics are normally charged more for the same model of car as compared to the white consumers. However, when one purchases the vehicle online, then these prices differences do not surface.
Negative Effects of Social Media
Technology in most cases encourages multitasking. Many tablets are normally open when one visits social media sites. In addition, this happens even during working hours and makes it difficult to concentrate on a particular task. In other words, a person is not able to focus on any significant issue. According to research, this happens because people’s brains are not able to fully concentrate on two things simultaneously. The main reason is that their brain quickly switches from one particular task to another, which hinders processing of information and productivity. Working on a particular tablet for designated period of time without getting distracted by others can increase concentration and hence productivity.
According to the studies, social media is addictive; about 63% of Americans have to log in to Facebook on a daily basis while 43% log in several times during the day. Although Facebook is used for various reasons, most of the time it becomes a distraction. Others use it to relieve boredom. One posts information and photos in order to get likes and positive comments, which can be difficult to stop. This is common especially among adolescents where affirmation is perceived as the most important achievement. It has become possible to know the self-esteem of some people just by the online personas they display on Facebook and other social media accounts. According to Eisenlauer, the information people post on their walls and profiles reflect who they are. People with low self-esteem normally give much importance to the things people are posting about them while those with higher self-esteem concentrate on adding personal information about important areas of their lives such as their education, family, and work. Those with low self-esteem are tirelessly monitoring their Facebook wall in order to delete any undesirable posts written by other users. There are studies made to determine if there is a connection between Facebook usage and self-esteem. The results showed that an increase in Facebook interaction was accompanied by a decrease in self-esteem among some users. However, there was a difference between the genders; women Facebook users were considered as less happy and viewed their lives as less fulfilling. Students on Facebook may actually make posts that reveal their low self-esteem while some may compare themselves with those, whom they perceive as satisfied people of higher class. The examples of posts seen on Facebook include, “so and so is lucky to be having such great friends,” “[name], looks forward to an amazing day”. Such posts prove that the individuals who write them are envious of the other person’s life.
Another impact that social is encouraging narcissism in the society whereas it is considered that Twitter and Facebook are the main sites causing this attitude. Narcissism in this context is viewed as a pervasive pattern for magnificence where one has an excessive need for admiration and self- importance. It has been proved that Facebook has a dark side because it offers the ideal platform for narcissists.
A research conducted defined a connection between use of the social media and anxiety. There are people who claim that their Facebook sites invoke feelings of anxiety in them while others felt guilty over rejecting friend’s requests. There were many individuals who reported that they were under pressure to post inventive status updates while others were unsatisfied with the different rules applying to different friends with regard to online etiquette. Although most of the social sites users have the intention of keeping contact with their friends and not missing the latest news, this often leads to pressure. Moreover, it keeps one in a neurotic limbo state, which can be compared to that of gambling where one hangs in the game hoping for something good to happen. On the other hand, people who are addicted to the social media often experience restlessness when they find themselves not able to use their accounts.
The research shows that the use of social media sites can make one dissatisfied with his own life. Nowadays, this is referred to as “Facebook envy”. It is a situation when viewing the lives of other with regards to the activity on their wall makes one feel that his life is not good enough. Finally, this person feels frustrated, lonely, and angry. It might seem funny, but it is actually a serious problem affecting many people. Some people get many likes for whatever they post on Facebook and have several birthday greetings. In addition, their photos may seem ‘awesome’ that one becomes envious because they seem to ‘have it all’ and are valued by their friends and strangers alike. If one decides to compare himself to this kind of a popular person, he feels inadequate, which causes negative feelings. It should be noted that many people do not consider the fact that technological advancement has made it possible for people to craft their image as desired.
There was a debate about the use of social media for cyberbullying. Many people have fallen prey to cyberbullying leading to the feelings of worthlessness in some cases and even loss of life in extreme situation. There have been cases of people committing suicide due to cyberbullying and this was especially common among the teenagers. According to a conducted survey, 95% of teenagers on social media sites have been witnesses to cyberbullying while 33% have actually been victims. Although many adults can relate with bullying which was present at schools in the past, cyberbullying is a different problem. However, bullies are same in both instances despite the differences in the way one commits this atrocity. Social media enables these people to bully others easier and over a larger geographical area. Cyberbullying is connected with act of spreading hurtful and damaging texts, images and videos to a big audience by using electronic media, which involves text messaging and also websites, including SnapChat, Vine, and Facebook. For example, there may be a picture of someone changing in their locker room taken by a bully and spread to an entire school or community. This is possible through the push of a button which is facilitated by technology and social media, to be precise. These are issues that many people go through every day. In addition, the victims who do not get the appropriate help early enough in order to know how to deal with this problem may consequently hurt themselves.
A study conducted to review the relationship, which exist between the social media and teenagers showed that about 70% of teenagers aged 12-17 are registered on the social media sites. The number of those who visist these sites daily had a higher chance of using alcohol and drugs. The results revealed that those on social media had three times the chances of using alcohol, five times the chances of using tobacco and were twice more likely to try marijuana. 40% of this group said that they had exposure to the pictures of people abusing drugs and alcohol on the social media. The study showed that there was a link between the users of social media and drug and alcohol abused. Social media increases the amount of peer pressure to which the teenagers are subjected, therefore increasing their chances of succumbing to the same.
It is worth noting that technology has different impacts on the social life of people that can be both positive and negative. An individual has the ability to actively shape technology to his advantage. The internet is a unique and useful tool in terms of its transformational qualities in the way that it acts as a communication channel. It provides comparative anonymity and is able to link people with similar interest, beliefs, and values. The anonymity it provides breeds self-expression. Moreover, the fact that there is not any physical or nonverbal interaction encourages formation of relationships with deeper basis such as common beliefs and values. This is different from the relationships created through face to face interaction, which are normally based on factors such as attractiveness. In addition to the fact that technology and the use of social media is very important, it is also associated with some undesirable effects in the form of cyber bullying, feelings of low self-esteem, and increased rate of alcohol and drug abuse among others, as explained earlier.
However, communication through the internet is not always complete and leaves many unsaid words while others are subject to interpretation. Notwithstanding, it is clear that one’s intention towards the use of social media in order to interact with people greatly determines the kind of outcome the person can get. For people who know how to use it properly, it can act as a breeding ground for the creation of new and meaningful relationships. Due to the advancement in technology, the internet has become an important part of the human life. It is important to adapt well to it and discover the ways in which it can be used to human’s advantage while reducing the undesirable effects.