Some More Negatives Of Social Media

No filters on information

i) allows fake news (deliberate attempts of spreading misinformation usually negative, ie people invent news stories and pretend that they are true)

NB Fake news spreads around 6 times faster than 'good' news (Q & A as quoted by ABCTV, October, 2020)

ii) radicalisation of people, eg extremists

iii) normalises extreme behaviours like graphic displays of violence and/or atrocities including murders, executions, beheadings, accidents (vehicles, etc), shootings, etc

NB the more shocking the scene, the more interest in it, ie goes viral on the Internet

iv) creates instant celebrity status that many people are unable to handle

v) encourages peer group pressure

vi) encourages bad behaviour like deliberately upsetting someone who has a different point of view (extreme cases involve hate speech)

vii) there is little privacy (see more details later) as everything on the Internet is open, marketable and transparent

viii) buying of illicit drugs on the Internet, ie "deep or dark web", eg silk Road (it is claimed that it traded $1.2 b. until it was closed in October 2013)

ix) terrorism, ie use of mobile phones and social media to detonate explosives, track people movements, promote activities like beheadings, etc

x) cyber predators, like cyber bullying, eg up to 40% of Australian children have been exposed to it (2014)

xi) child abuse/pornography, eg revenge porn

xii) social gambling (see below)

xiii) cyber espionage like Chinese military hacking of the US defence contractors involved in the F-35 joint strike fighter aircraft

xiv) hacking (illegal access to some-one else's computer and data)

xv) loss of solitude (zones of silence in which we think original thoughts, do creative work, etc)

xvi) Wisdom is suffering

One of the negatives of social media is the amount of data/information and it speed of transfer, ie

"...Too much information creates numbness. Then we stop feeling. Then we stop caring. Refugees become their numbers, anyone who is different becomes a category, and abstraction. It is not a coincidence that all populism movements are essentially against plurality, against adversity. In creating dualistic frameworks and polarised society, they know they can spread numbness faster..."

Elif Shafak 2018

The proliferation of data and information, and the speed its spread, is at the expense of wisdom, ie

". ..where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information..."

TS Eliot (1934) as quoted by Elif Shafak 2018

NB Data involves the collection of facts, figures, etc; analysing the data turns it into information; interpreting information turns it into knowledge; using the knowledge wisely turns it into wisdom.

Remember: data is not information, information is not knowledge, knowledge is not understanding, understanding is not wisdom. In other words, it can be very difficult to get data to produce wisdom!!!

NB Like any new technology, there are good and bad impacts. Need to regulate the bad aspects like mis-use of personal data.

All social media platforms are struggling to handle bad behaviour around issues like bullying, misogyny, racism, fake news/misinformation, self righteous lynch mobs, etc. In developing ways to handle these issues there is a conundrum, ie how far do they go in policing what is put up on the Internet, without killing the ethos of free speech.

"...hands off approach that is steeped in Silicon Valley libertarianism..."

Paula Smith et al 2018

- Addiction to instant gratification

The use of social media especially on smart phones supports instant gratification and this can conflict with what the education system is about, ie delayed gratification.

"...The culture of the Internet is of immediate pleasure...... the inverse of school, which is about delayed gratification..." 

Monique Dagnaud as quoted by Alissa Runin et al, 2018 

Social media is 

"...A culture of creates a rapport with the world that is very immediate, very visual, fun..." 

Monique Dagnaud as quoted by Alissa Runin et al, 2018 

Schools are focusing on preparing their students for the 21st century, ie 

"...we must give them the tools of modernity; mastery of mass, of general culture,  the ability to flourish in social relationships, a capacity to discuss with others, to understand respect others and then very strong digital skills..." 

Jean-Mochel Blanquer as quoted by Alissa Runin et al, 2018

Research has shown that using a smart phone sets off the production of dopamine. It is the same system that is implicated in addiction and drugs. 

Also, it reduces your visual sensations

- Echo chamber

"...The online ecosystem is increasingly tailored to one's existing use. Facebook prioritises information from your closest contacts, who share similar perspectives. Twitter only shows you information from the people you follow, who often already agree with you. The web and social media have combined to create a state of intellectual isolation so that people are rarely exposed to conflicting viewpoints. Combined with people's penchant for clicking on information that supports their perspectives, these algorithms can lead humanity to becoming more and more isolated in their own echo chambers..."
Johan Berger, 2020

- The Internet has become part of the surveillance economy, ie government watching people plus both corporations and government collecting, analysing, using data, etc about people's preferences, activities, etc without their permission.

- Addiction (people are becoming addicted to the Internet, ie they are becoming dependent on it. If these people are denied access, they suffer withdrawal symptoms like mood swings, etc and it has negative impacts on heart rates, blood pressure, etc. Similar to drugs like heroin, ecstasy, etc, it can do damage to the brain's architecture (including the prefrontal cortex). If you spend around 10 hours a day on the Internet, there could be a 10% reduction your brain's capability to think and thus your behaviour (source: SBS, 2021).


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