Today’s youth have corrupted the famous “I think therefore I am” pronouncement by Descartes. These days, there is little need to think. Everything is available, a quick search away.
Despite the internet providing us with a seemingly limitless treasure-trove of information, the pursuit of knowledge has been lost. People prefer spending their limited time on social media, apps and games. With the minute long attention span these days, thinking is reserved for rare occasions. People find comfort in their bubble of ignorance and will Google it when need be.
Identity is also affected by social media. Glancing at my Facebook news feed, I am always astonished by the personal revelations on the one hand and the trivial details of daily life on the other. Although social media can be (and usually is) used for sharing useful information, it is also dominated by those searching for confirmation, sympathy or attention.
“I’m so tired today” and “Bored out of my mind” posted one friend. “Supermarket was out of milk” and “My sock has a hole in it” posted another. At that I ask myself, who cares and what is the purpose of sharing that information with your social network or the world at large?
Even worse than trivial details is when people share rather personal things. “Hate my boss”, “Best girlfriend ever”, or “My mother-in-law is driving me insane!!!” for example.
Without delving too deeply into the world of arrogant braggers who post flattering pictures of themselves at an annual holiday, it is sufficient to say that those posts are merely selective representations; a boast and a taunt to boost self image.
I believe, to a certain extent, that people are trying to satisfy their human desire for recognition and contribution. They ‘post’ for social recognition and get ‘likes’ to feel accepted. This desire is so strong that people often post inappropriate and embarrassing things about themselves and their loved ones.
Conversely, if a status update gets one, two or even no ‘likes’ a feeling of rejection may ensue.
Related to identity is the ability to represent oneself online. Whereas before things were said and done naturally and in real time showing the jagged truth about human imperfections, these days people carefully craft their online persona which leads to a self image which is superficial and reduced to illuminate only a partial portion of the self.
The long term psychological and sociological effects of social media have not been fully explored. Only in time will all the consequences emerge. Without a doubt, however, the relationship we have with others and with ourselves has changed. As social media ingrains itself into the young and ideologically weak among us, identity will continue to be warped accordingly and interpersonal relationships may suffer.
Although social media is not going anywhere, we should reassess the way we use and relate to it. Through social media we are more informed and in touch. People find their soul-mates using social media. Social media has changed the world by connecting us in a web that was unimaginable a decade ago. We must however be conscious and aware. People ought to reclaim their lives in real time by enjoying personal moments without feeling the need to ‘share’.