Social media have enhanced communication among human beings and has brought all of humanity closer with their ease of use. However, they tend to offer unlimited access to personal information and that could not be without drawbacks.
In my previous article, we checked out the good and the bad of using Facebook and other social media networks. In this one, we are finishing up with the cons of social media as we step into the very dark side of social media.
Table of Contents
The Ugly Side of Social Media Networks
Rise in Criminal activity
Social media give free and easy access to our personal information. Combine that with the fact that users are willingly putting that information out there and we have a new wave of criminal activity.
People tend to forget that some personal information can allow others to harm them in a variety of ways. Here is a very simple example:
If you constantly post your current location on Facebook, this allows someone to track you better. They will know exactly where to find you.
You might think ‘hey, I got nothing to hide man’. Sure but someone might be looking for you for their own personal reasons. Maybe it is a stalker from your past. Maybe just a criminal looking for an easy victim online.
These criminals can easily track your day-to-day activities and even understand how you think or act. In which case, they could use this information to find out what kind of route you go through every day and set you up. Or they may try to befriend you and deceive you to get their way with something.
There are a lot of ways that these people can benefit from your personal data. So do not allow anyone you don’t know, to have access to your personal routine or data. Or at least try to share personal moments only with people you know in real life. Notice that I said ‘with people you know in real life’ and not ‘with your friends’. Are you getting it yet?
Another problem with social media is their addictiveness. As I mentioned in the previous article about social media benefits, they tend to be a lot of fun. By having too much fun though, you lose track of time. Eventually your life will become spending time in front of a computer. You will want to know everything that is happening in your online environment and you will eventually become so addicted that nothing else will matter. You will take Facebook everywhere with you (already happening) and check your phone every chance you get.
You think it’s not serious? See if you can do this simple experiment to find out if you are addicted or not:
Choose 3 days where you are not working and do not check your Facebook or any of your other social media during that time. Chances are you will not be able to do this.
If that’s the case, congratulations! You are addicted to social media!
You are officially unable to live your life offline.
Bad nutritional and sleep habits
Usually with addictions come other problems. Your addiction will expand to other parts of your existence like your diet and your sleep.
Of course, this is a common problem for every computer user who spends hours and hours in front of a screen whether it’s for gaming, vlogging, chatting or in our case – social media.
If you already know how to eat healthy, then this may not be a serious problem.
However, if you don’t have good nutritional habits, your diet will suffer even more as you focus on eating quick, junk food meals trying not to miss anything on your beloved social media.
And at night your sleep will suffer. Not just because of your bad diet but also because you will be using your phone, computer or tablet until late at night. The problem here is that because the screen emits light, it will mess with your melatonin production. I have spoken about Melatonin and its importance in another article but let me give you a quick rundown.
Melatonin is a hormone produced in our pituitary gland that sends us the signal to sleep. It is light sensitive which means that when there is no light around us, melatonin is secreted in our brain and we feel the urge to sleep.
When light becomes available around us, our body detects it through our skin and eyes and the production of melatonin stops and we wake up.
There is actually a study on how the use of electronics before bed can affect sleep causing us to sleep less (5 hours) instead of the normal 8 hours we should be getting. You can check the study here.
Social media users often display star-like behaviors. You see, it is in our nature to want to be desired, loved and to a certain extent, worshiped. There is –almost- nothing wrong with that.
Wanting to be loved is one thing, thinking we are superstars and seeing others as ‘fans’ is where the problem might appear. This is where people cross the line. Social media allowed thousands and millions of normal people to feel like stars by posting pictures and their private moments online.
So now we have ended up having half the planet acting like rock/film stars without actually seeing any sort of contribution to art or music. This can lead to problematic personalities and narcissistic behaviors who tend to give priority to shallowness, vanity and one’s personal needs. These people lose connection to their true, ego-less self and with this narcissistic nature, their empathy for others and the world we live in, dies.
Social media is often used for personal validation. People just want to be accepted, loved and worshiped. This becomes the main drive for most of the online behaviors we often witness. When they find this validation (and get addicted to it), their entire life is about the ‘numbers’, feeding this addiction by taking selfies and posting personal things that no one really wants to know about (“Taking that crap felt so good. Can’t feel my legs from sitting on the crapper for so long”). I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to know this kind of info, not even from rock or movie stars.
I don’t have a problem with rock and film stars. I think they are great. They work hard or have a talent that is rare to come by and they make money out of that. And with that, they got to have special treatment. Very understandable and very acceptable.
But like I said, having hordes of star-like people out there demanding special treatment will take the modern world nowhere. No wait, we are already at nowhere. Damn, I’m too late trying to save the world with this article. It’s OK people, just press like and then share this article with others so that you can make me feel better about myself. (See how easy it is to get sidetracked online?)
Bottom line is: we need to learn to live in the moment and not live for an awesome pic that will go viral. If we are living on the screen are we living at all?
Complete loss of privacy
Another huge problem is the loss of personal privacy. By putting your data out there, anyone can look you up and find out anything about you. But it’s not just social media that is responsible for that problem. The entire internet world is based on that premise: you putting data out there and others receiving it.
But the point here is to understand what kind of data goes out in the internet and to be able to understand how some of that might hurt you.
I think most of you understand that your online presence can (sometimes) determine what kind of response you can get from -say- a job application. HR departments now specialize in finding your crap online and based on that, can turn you down. Of course, it is illegal if they do that and you can sue someone for it. But good luck with that once it happens!
The new trend in the corporate world is to have its employees create online profiles. Of course with the extended use of social media (along with its addictive effect and the need to constantly expose ourselves), people are always eager to put their personal data out there. However people do so without understanding the fact that they are passing on not just private data, but also their human right for privacy.
This is just fine if this is what you really want. But remember this: Some things are better left unsaid and once they are said, there is no way for you to erase them. Especially when these things can hurt your social image and destroy your professional and personal life.
There are plenty of examples in the last few years of celebrities and normal people who posted the wrong comment at the wrong time online.
If you want to see how you look to others and find out your online presence, just google your full name and see what comes up. This will give you an idea of how you come across and what you might want to fix.
Personal data is used for ‘other’ purposes
Last, but most certainly not least, another scary aspect of the use of social media is the use of your personal data for marketing and living trends. Based on what you post online (along with your google search), corporations can now guess your likes and dislikes and create a marketing plan that reflects your personality.
They also claim to be using that profile to create a better experience for you and to provide better services. All this is nice and dandy if you actually volunteered to take a survey and answer some questions on a specific subject.
However, if your personal data is extracted by your use of social media networks and your online business transactions, you do not always know for what other purposes they are being used.
Maybe they want to find out everything about you or maybe they want to create a new product in the market that will be irresistible to people like you. So in fact, you will be buying (more) crap that you do not need.
The idea is to have what you need in your life and to learn to live with less, not more. Because when the time comes for you to live with less, you will not be able to.
As a closing point, I want you to understand that using Facebook and social networks is not bad in itself. However, the devil hides in the details as they say, and transparency is not the name of the game of the internet. These 2 articles were not meant to scare you and drive you away from using social media. Let’s not forget that they do serve a purpose and have some benefits as I explained in part 1 here.
The information here is given so that you can protect yourself and your future on this planet and to make the world a better place. If you do not care about the latter, at least learn how to protect your personal information and keep yourself and your loved ones safe while using social networks.
Have you ever had someone track you down by checking your online presence? What did you do in that case? Leave a comment below and let the world know.
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by Nick Sigma
CWC, EH, E-YRT200
- Epidemiology Sleep and use of electronic devices in adolescence: results from a large population-based study