North Texas Daily

Facebook outage taught an unexpected lesson

Facebook outage taught an unexpected lesson

Facebook outage taught an unexpected lesson
October 29
12:00 2021

When pondering the usefulness of social media, things like spreading news, promoting business endeavors and connecting with others are usually at the top of the list.

While it is true that these things can be done on various social media platforms, it doesn’t reveal their true nature. Masked beneath the endless stream of memes, posts and video content are incredibly toxic and harmful trends. Some behavior exhibited online is more inadvertent than others, but they add to the issue nonetheless. 

In the age of social media, cyberbullying has evolved and taken on new forms. Before social media, one would only have to worry about defending themselves from insults against people they encounter in real life. Now, anyone with a public social media page is accessible for the entire world to take aim at them. Every day someone else is the punchline of someone else’s insulting jokes. It’s an incredibly tiring process to see play out, and one that makes users wary of using social media platforms regularly.

The harmful nature of social media doesn’t end with cyberbullying, though. More prevalent issues such as fear of missing out (FOMO), body image concerns, insecurity and comparison-induced depression have victimized social media users as well. It is this group of problems that I find the most troubling about social media use. If logging into a website or application is going to lead to self-esteem issues or a feeling of insignificance, it is hard to justify signing in at all. 

As humans, we are far from perfect. Our differing talents and inabilities are what make us who we are. It is what makes us unique. 

Social media culture, however, practically forces people to mask their true selves and pretend to be spotless.  This process has been recycled for quite some time and has made us a more disconnected, artificial society as a result. Now, instead of being in tune with those around us in the real world, people tune in to the digital world of social media. Some people have even become so dependent on social media that they act as if they cannot function without it.

A recent example of this is when the Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp servers crashed. The shortage only lasted six short hours but people swarmed to Twitter and other running social media apps to express their confusion and displeasure with it being down. For six hours, it was as if half the planet shut down along with Facebook. Practically everyone was discussing the possibilities of why it shut down or if it would return, but hardly anyone talked about simply stepping away from the digital landscape for a bit.

This made me wonder just how reliant society has become on social media platforms. So, I did some research on social media usage to get a better idea. The results were overwhelming.

When Pew Research Center began tracking social media adoption in 2005, just five percent of American adults used at least one of these platforms. By 2011 that figure had risen to half of all Americans, and today 72 percent of the public uses some form of social media.

For many users, social media is part of their daily routine. Seven in 10 Facebook users, and around six in 10 Instagram and Snapchat users, visit these sites at least once a day. Furthermore, social media users spend an average of 2.5 hours on social media every day. Added together, the world’s social media users will spend a total of 3.7 trillion hours on social media in 2021, which is equivalent to more than 420 million years of combined human existence.

This is an absurd amount of time to put towards anything, but especially into social media platforms that have dampened the social skills of its users en route to damaging their self-esteem and sense of worth.

Society would be better off without social media. Sure, memes would be sorely missed but it would be a worthy trade-off if it made us a more caring, authentic and connected society.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

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Jalyn Smoot

Jalyn Smoot

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