Will Social Media Run Its Course And Die Out?
Now more than anytime before, millennials do use social media on a daily basis. Even elders and children are on their platforms. It seems like it is the digital era. The use of social media is very much a part of the generation that we live in today. It is not really a luxury; it has become a necessity.
Now, let me ask you a question:
- How many of you are on Snapchat?
- How many of you are on Facebook?
- How many of you are on Instagram?
Well, the current user figures for the major platforms are :
- Facebook = 2.41 billion monthly users
- YouTube = 1.8 billion monthly users
- Twitter = 321 million users
- Instagram = 1 billion users
Let’s be honest that there are a lot of people, and it is increasing every single day. People are pretty much addicted to using social media, or at least they have become. If we are going to talk about whether social media will run its course or not, we have to think about its beginning. It all started with the internet and the rise of what they like to call smartphones.
At first, there was Facebook, and it did get popular, and it is still. It allowed people to socialize and communicate with each other. I mean, that was the purpose of it. Now, it is not only about that; there is a business going on this platform, online marketing, e-commerce, e-learning… etc. That means more and more users. Then, Instagram came out and it is now the most popular social media platform.
Nowadays, literally everyone is sharing pictures on Instagram, not regular pictures, though; they share only the best versions of themselves, the best family gathering, the best body, the best house. It doesn’t stop there; People tend to compare themselves. It is like living in the world of selfies where the number of likes validates the person. People are constantly checking their phones fearing to miss out on something.
It is definitely true that social media has destroyed empathy. I myself witnessed that and maybe so did you. A while ago I was scrolling through my Facebook and I saw this story my friend had shared, it was about five teenagers laughing and recording a drowning man. A man facing his last moments. Instead of calling for help, these teenagers chose to make a two-minutes long video and watch the man die. I have also known stories of teens taking their own lives fearing to be attacked on social media, and plenty of other stories are going viral revealing the damage social media has on empathy.
It is obvious that social networks have a dark side; however, I don’t think it will die out. Studies have shown that when we use our phones, more specifically social networks, a chemical called dopamine gets released and basically that is why we feel the need to keep checking our phones, checking the likes of the last picture we uploaded even though we don’t get any notifications. This means that what we are dealing with is insanely addictive. They say checking your likes is the new smoking.
The fact is, as humans, we seek pleasure. But, we don’t just seek pleasure. We are addicted to it, and that is exactly what social media is about. When it was first invented, it was designed to be addictive. Addiction is again more money and more use of social media, which makes this latter staying for longer, which means it is not fading away at least for now.
Social media seems to be offering people what they want, and scrolling through those apps is fun. Social media gave people validation, attention, worth, and comfort. Let’s be honest, who does not like that? Everybody wants it. Thus, everybody will use it and we are witnessing that daily.
Social media has a huge impact on our language and the choice of words we use every day, which has opened the door to new ways of communication. The British applied linguist David crystal has talked about the effect of technology, and how it resulted in the use of acronyms and speech reduction. People no longer have to write much in order to say something, for instance:
- Lol: laughing out loud
- Ttyl: talk to you later
- Omg: oh my god
- Tmrw: tomorrow
Social media have also shaped our identities and who we are. Not a long time ago, our identity was shaped by the people around us. But now, it is constructed by social media. Just as we construct technology, technology constructs us. In fact, Apple recently made available ethnic emojis such as black, brown, dark shades.
In a nutshell, I don’t think social media will ever go away. It is here to stay …and maybe forever.