Social Media & Technology Take Over: A Blessing Or A Curse?

Brianna Martin: j480

Today’s various social media platforms allow for connection and interaction beyond belief. In many instances, technology provides us accessibility, opportunity, and imagination that reality simply cannot. On the contrary, we see the overconsumption and overuse of technology and social media poisoning multiple aspects of individuals’ real lives. This brings upon the question: Is the prominence of social media and technology within modern society an overall good or bad thing?

For some people, social media allows them to do things they are unable to do in real life. For example, in class a few weeks prior our focus of conversation was virtual worlds. When we were taught about Second Life, an online virtual world, I originally did not fully understand the appeal. I thought of people who excessively used and relied on virtual worlds such as Second Life. My friend next to me whispered, “I don’t know how I feel about this. If your real life is terrible, you should make improvements to it, not rely on a virtual life.” In the moment- I completely agreed.

However, the guest speaker carried on to tell the class the story of a woman whose life was particularly affected by Second Life. This woman was a fashion designer, and she loved her career. Unfortunately, her passion became less and less of a part of her daily life due to her being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The disorder affects movement, which is why designing and creating clothes became more and more difficult.

Just when she thought her career was coming to an inevitable end, she began to explore life in the virtual world of Second Life. Second Life allowed this woman to socialize and live life in a way she no longer thought she could. Eventually, she was even able to pursue her passion in fashion and began to design and create things on Second Life.

This tale made me take a second look at virtual worlds. I thought back to what my friend had just said: “If your real life is terrible, you should make improvements to it, not rely on a virtual life.” But what if there is simply nothing one can do about their problems in the real world? In this example, Second Life could very much so be considered a blessing and a true life saver.

This alternate perspective on social media and technology shines quite a positive light on the topic. However, it is undeniable that the prominence of social media in today’s society has it’s fair share of downsides. A simple example of this is the lack of attention people have because they are overly focused on their electronic device. It isn’t just parents getting mad at their children; I have caught myself being a terrible listener to friends because I am distracted by social media, and the reversesituation has happened plenty of times as well.

Not to mention-the issue has gotten more severe than just distractions. The same guest speaker referenced earlier even told the story of a couple in China who were so absorbed in their virtual world and virtual lives that they forgot to take care of their baby- their real life baby.

The following article refers to the correlation between social media use and the ability to recognize emotion. Does our consumption of social media negatively affect our abilities to empathize and embrace real life emotion? Children sent to an outdoor program with no access to electronics appeared to recognize and use emotion better than children who had access to social media and technology: http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/28/343735856/kids-and-screen-time-what-does-the-research-say .

To conclude, social media and technology play an inevitable role in today’s society. However, a balance of usage is necessary. For some, social media and technology may be more necessary and play a bigger role in daily life. When the two begin to replace reality, there may be a variety of negative outcomes.

 

This Article Has 5 Comments
  1. Lauren Sokol says:

    Brianna,
    Thanks for this important post and reminder of the dangers of social media. I have also caught myself getting distracted by my phone and social media channels and I have, on many occasions, also been sitting across from another person eating a meal while they scroll through their twitter feed. While virtual worlds have their own positives and negatives, I think the biggest threat to our society is the use of our phones and social media as a social crutch in situations. People aren’t connecting anymore.

    Even if you look around campus in locations where you would assume most people wouldn’t be using devices, like the Rec Center, EVERYONE is on their phones and looking down. I have also sat in a coffee shop before without looking down at something like a laptop or device. It was incredibly uncomfortable and I felt like I was intruding on people’s private time, even though we were all in public. In some countries they are even putting guidelines on walkways so you can safely look at your phone while walking and not run into anyone coming the other direction.

    The fact that our society has reached this point is pretty scary to me and I hope this is a bubble that is about to burst in some way. I think that social media is important because of the connections that it enables, but I feel like there has to be a way to bring it back towards person to person interactions. The best analogy I can think of is how Amazon has now opened retail stores but has solved the inefficiency problem of having to wait in a checkout line. The largest e-commerce company in the world has gone back to brick-and-mortar. It seems counterintuitive, but I think that social media companies could potentially start thinking of how we can connect the physical world and the digital world to reignite genuine interaction between humans.

    Thanks again for a thought provoking post.
    -Lauren

  2. Katherine Wylie says:

    This post really drove home the message that our social media presence can really affect our real lives. When we our eyes are glued to our screens, we are missing out on what is happening right in front of us. This hinders our ability to appreciate the natural beauty of the world around us and the people within it. Though social media has opened the doors for immense and instant contact to the far reaches of the globe, we must not forget that the most important relationships that humans can foster are those that are interpersonal, rather than those that are virtual and remote. It is critical for us to teach our children the dangers of neglecting the present in favor of the vast social network that is continuously unfolding on their devices.

  3. Kristin Peixotto says:

    Very well done! I agree that sometimes technology can be used as an escape from reality. This is true for more than just people with disabilities. How many of your friends binge watch Netflix or play video games all day? Yes, some people do this to escape the world. Yet, others do this to relax or to get away from stress. Is this a curse? I don’t think so.

    I also agree that balancing technology can be hard at times. Just look at the class Twitter feed. Sometimes posts can really add to the conversation while other times it can be just distracting. I think this balance gets even harder as we enter into the professional world with client emails and content social media surrounding clients. It can be hard to manage. But I unplugging and enjoying face to face relationships and enjoying the outdoors is to important to our overall health.

  4. Shannon Elliott says:

    I completely agree! I think that balance is really important with social media. Yes, it can provide opportunities and accessibility that isn’t available in the real world, yet access amounts of usage can have negative effects. I also agree that unplugging for a while can be really beneficial.

    Unfortunately, there are so many horror stories that result from not unplugging from social media every once in a while. The example of the family who forgot about their baby was definitely an extreme situation, but I think that it does show how detrimental online communities can be when you’re too involved in them.

    I really like the overall points you make in this post. Also, I think that the examples you chose from the guest speaker really does demonstrate some of the negative consequences that result in delving too much into online worlds.

  5. Karalyn Arnett says:

    I had the same thought process during the Second Life lecture! I wasn’t really sure about it at first, but as the guest speaker kept explaining how it has effected lives of those who are disabled it was actually very eye opening. That was a new perspective I had never even thought about or considered. Second Life is a great chance for people to “re-invent” their life and live out dreams they may not be able to achieve physically. I am actually fairly interested to see how it grows in the future.

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