Core Decorum: social media

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Illustration courtesy of Cecilia Lang.

It has been less than 20 years since the creation, and surge of social media. Because it is a relatively recent invention, there are many unknown aspects as to how it affects users.

Has it proven itself beneficial or harmful? The answer is complicated, for it is undeniable that social media has caused several problems in our society. 

It is important that the problems of social media are identified and addressed.  

There are three prevalent problems in social media. The first major problem is the false sense of identity that social media has generated. 

For many, the online world has become a second reality, and they begin to care more about their online image than about their real life presence. People have become so preoccupied by the devices in their hands that they forget about the tangible presence of the people before their eyes.

This can be especially harmful among relationships with family and friends, and  should be a source of concern for future generations. 

The second problem is the lack of productivity social media causes among its users. Studies have shown that the average person spends nearly two hours a day on social media. 

At this rate, it adds up to about five years of one’s life spent on social media sites. This ought to make us ask ourselves: is social media truly worth it? 

I doubt anyone can claim that it is. The misuse of time caused by social media can negatively affect people’s work ethic and concentration in school or work. 

It is unknown how many students and employees are not meeting their God-given potential because of online procrastination, and it could have major consequences for the future of our working society. 

The third major problem with social media is a decrease in personal happiness. Although social media may bring moments of thrill, studies have found that it is not uncommon for it to also cause feelings of depression and discontentment.

This may be because most people tend to only share the high points of their life on social media. Consequently, individuals may often feel they are alone in their struggles and sorrows, feeling more discontent with their lives than they would otherwise. 

Is social media itself the problem? Or, is the problem the way many individuals choose to use it? 

Social media can be used in edifying ways. In fact, there are people that demonstrate this possibility. 

These people limit their time on social media because they prioritize investing in their own real character more than their online profiles. 

They understand that, although this technology has been able to connect humans in a way never done before, it can never be a full substitute for authentic human interaction. When they do utilize social media, they use it to share ideas and creativity, as well as to cultivate relationships with family and friends. 

This is the proper role of social media in our lives. Social media is a tool, not an alternative to reality. Any attempt to turn it into such would only result in a delusion, leading to the problems already discussed. 

With these considerations in mind, hopefully social media will take its proper place in the lives of its users. 

Thus, if we do use social media, may we strive to savor the time and gifts we have received, and never waste them. 

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