ESSAY #1 – Social Media and Technology

In today’s modern day, technology has shifted our world into an unrecognizable place. Communication technologies have had a dominating effect on the lives of individuals, resulting in them becoming more dependent on such technologies to maintain a standard of living. Communication technologies are all around us. These technological advances are highly demanding of an individual’s attention and take up much of our time. Communication technologies cause individuals to disconnect from reality, negatively impacting our perception of the world, making humans less willing to learn by themselves since ‘google knows the answer’, inevitably decreasing effort and promoting dependence. Regardless of the ease and interconnectivity that communication technologies may provide, it takes away from our perception of reality and our surroundings, thus creating a democratic space for dialogue.

High levels of interconnectedness disconnects people from their surroundings, as the new era of technology and social media captivate individuals to cultivate experiences online rather than in person. The misuse of technology has become detrimental to society, as people are becoming increasingly disconnected from their environment and  surroundings. New age technology has allowed society to become introverted, as “new media and new forms of technology provide a new platform and opportunity to engage with popular culture for the socialization of the individuals” (Buhmann, pp. 4 ), online; however fails to reciprocate that same connection within reality. Social communication has been on a decline, due to the internet bringing the world together and bridging the gap between places and people, in hopes of promoting globalization and modernization. Everything and anything is available on the web, which is why the misuse of technology can lead to people getting sucked into a false reality, ultimately causing negative effects on one’s health and well-being.

The overwhelming flow of information that technology produces, negatively impacts society, as our cognitive limitations do not allow us to compute the immense influx of information (Gomez-Rodriguez, pp. 170). Processing the large amounts of information readily available online becomes difficult, as individuals are unable to comprehend data at such significant rates. One’s opinions are often influenced by bias that exists on social media, whereas it becomes difficult to distinguish between one’s own thoughts, and those of individuals online.  

Social media has made it possible for any person to fake their personality and disposition creating a discrepancy between what can be taken at face value as factual and what is simply false. Creating friendships and building upon one’s social skills does not require a lot of effort, as anyone can sit behind a computer screen and act like someone they are not. Technology and social media have created a sense of disconnect with places and identities, by reformulating a sense of virtual reality that people collectively engage in. For instance, people portray themselves very differently online than in-person, in an effort to create a false persona that is an ideal image of oneself rather than their true identity.

Reddit, for example, is a place for anyone, anywhere, to post whatever they want to. The internet gives a voice to the voiceless, which may be beneficial or detrimental. It may be good for spreading awareness or pormoting positivity; however, the internet allows for individuals to say whatever they feel like, encouraging negativity, hate speech, violence and promoting mob mentalities and cancel culture. Social media influencers have the power to “influence” those that follow them, which can lead to things like cyber bullying and discrimination against groups and individuals. An example of cancel culture, described by Bromwich, as  a “total disinvestment in something” (Bromwich, 2018) is when recording artist, Drake, had a feud with another recording artist, Meek Mill. As Drake was the bigger name and had more popularity, people took his side and began to go at Meek Mill, even if they actually liked him more, simply because sheep follows sheep. Social media went on a rampage, making memes and harassing Meek Mill at concerts, in public, to threatening him and his family, which was all caused by social media and the idea of cancel culture and mob mentalities.

With the ever increasing use of technology and social media, there is an increased dislocation of oneself from reality (Connerton, pp. 124). For instance, there is a disjunction between the production and the final product of goods; in that, there is “a telling contrast between the personal signature of the artist, the stamp of the creator, and the anonymity of those in manufactur[ing]e who leave no trace on the product” (Connerton, pp. 125). Individuals are no longer bound by their environments because travel has become a leisure, rather than a necessity for the purpose of one’s livelihood. Before technological advances allowed for air travel, or efficient rail or ship transport, large pockets of people, globally, were more often than not non-mobile. Now, travel is not a need for sustenance and survival, rather it is a want, and a leisure. This disconnects people from their place of birth, and has created an interweb of very mobile societies that do not need to stay in the same communities they were born in. This idea is reflected in several other examples, such as the flow of information and ideas, that are now easily accessible without having to acquire it from the creator (Connerton, 1989). 

Like stated before, social media is a false reality, highlighting only the good parts of individuals lives, as that creates attention and creates a sense of want in people. Everyone wants the good life, where we can afford to travel anywhere, have the nicest clothes, drive the flashiest cars, stay at the most expensive hotels and dine at 5-star restaurants; however, we must understand that though that lifestyle may be true for some, for the majority, it is fabricated and used to manipulate people like you and me.

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