A lot of people have said a lot of negative things about social media. People have said that social media is ruining social life, that social media is ruining our children, and that social media is damaging to ones mental well-being. From all the negative talk of social media, you’d think it be terrible.
But, I argued otherwise. I think social media can be a great benefit to the economy, to social life, and to democracy.
Narcissism and Human Capital
To those who are moderately self-aware, it has become apparent that social media functions as an outlet for narcissistic tendencies. We are able to upload digital representations of our experiences through a synthetic eyeball in a controlled and scientific fashion.
Like narcissistic scientists, we manipulate the independent variables to modify the dependent variables; we manipulate our make-up, our clothing, and the angles at which photos are taken; only because we seek to increase the number of likes, shares, and comments we receive.
We oversell our life stories, we appear better off than we truly are. It as though social media has become the new trophy room; that is, in the same way that athletes have trophy rooms to relive their glory days, so too have ordinary people turned facebook timelines and instagram accounts into idealized representations of their past.
And to some extent, all of this is incredibly fine. We are all a bit narcissistic. In fact, a complete lack of narcissism could be construed as being unhealthy. But social media is like a wildfire for those who were already narcissistic before social media.
Narcissists require co-dependent people; a narcissists self-esteem is derived from others being reliant upon them. A narcissist without a co-dependent is a narcissist with no self-esteem. And social media has become the new co-dependent for the narcissist: an all welcoming audience who will never reject them.
Narcissists can voice their empty opinions to an audience who believes the narcissist to be a quality person; only because the narcissist has shared empty, meaningless quotes about life: “live, laugh, love”. They virtue signal to gain attention, but seldom do these individuals embody the virtues they signal.
Now these developments can be construed as either negative or non-beneficial for society, but I disagree. Social media has found an economic outlet for overly narcissist behaviour. We have found a means to make profit and thus increase the overall utility by monetizing narcissism. We have increased the overall utility of society by making narcissists important assets for big tech companies. Therefore, social media is a benefit rather than a detriment.
Innovation Of Social Life
As a society, we are learning to deal with social media: its implications for the legal system, its implications for politics, and its implications for the work-place. We are learning how to deal with the privacy issues which arise from social media, the child development and well-being issues around children and social media usage, and the political issues of fake news and propaganda being spread. These are all problems with our current social media.
But these problems do not make social media, itself, cancerous. Social media is an innovation within social life. And as with most innovations, they come with many problems and obstacles, of which the developers and users have to overcome. Overcoming these challenges will lead to a net benefit within society.
On the one hand, we will have easier and better access to our friends, family, and colleagues as social media becomes more sophisticated. In the same way that the internet has granted us greater access to information, so too will social media grant us greater access to social information.
And on the other hand, social media can help us keep in touch with our friends and family as technology becomes more sophisticated. In specific, as technology orients itself towards augmented reality, more and more people will live online. In order to keep in touch with people, we will require some social medium. Social media serves as a perfect outlet for such a medium.
The innovations of social life shall keep social life up-to-speed with the technological developments within the wrest of society. We won’t have an old and outdated social life, so long as we have social media. Therefore, social media is not cancerous.
Social Media And Civil Discourse
Although social media has been used to spread false information and propaganda, social media has likewise been used for civil discourse.
3rd party news sources have thrived on social media; and as a result, many narratives juxtaposed to the narratives produced by the mainstream media have come about. On top of that, discussions which were deemed socially unacceptable have found a home on social media.
For example, people like Jordan Peterson turn to social media to engage in civil discussions on topics not accepted within professional establishments.
So, because social media has been remarkably important for civil discourse within America and many other countries, it is therefore not cancerous.
So, for the reasons mentioned before: namely, increase in wealth, innovations in social life, and benefit to civil discourse, I believe social media is not cancerous.
There are most certainly downfalls to social media, but challenges and obstacles are inherent to anything worth having. Our best option is to calmly and rationally deal with the challenges that social media presents to our society, because there are plenty of advantages to having social media.