OPINION: Damaging effects of social media on our society outweighs good

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Graduating with a mass communications degree in a time where fake news writers make more money and get more traffic on their websites than real journalist has made me scared and disappointed in the world we are living in today.

In the fast-paced lives we live, we want information quickly and easy to read. Keeping up with this pace, we often do not get the whole story or even get false information from unreliable sources.

Uninformed opinions are only one effect of social media these days. While it can be positive sometimes, more often than not, these effects are negative.

Everything we do is public, and it seems like people forget this fact and keep posting hurtful comments, images and articles on their social media pages.

The lack of privacy is one of the most worrying issues social media has caused, according to Brian Jung’s Chron article, “The negative effect of social media on society and individuals.”

People tend to post everything that is going on in their lives, like photos of when they went out or articles about political views. What they often forget, however, is that these posts and photos once shared, stay online and available for the public eye.

One of the first things I learned when I got a job in the U.S. is employers often will stalk potential employees’ social media in order to get an idea of whether or not someone is worth hiring. Those public posts then become a problem when you are in the hunt for a job, and sometimes become the reason why you don’t get hired, or get fired.

Cyberbullying is another issue that has gotten worse with time. Body shaming, racism, all types of discrimination are often expressed through social media, relying on the fact no one may know who said it when it is said behind a screen.

“The anonymity afforded online can bring out dark impulses that might otherwise be suppressed,” Jung wrote in his article. “Cyberbullying has spread widely among youth, with 42 percent reporting that they have been victims, according to a 2010 CBS News report.”

The assumed online anonymity can trick some people into doing something online that would be unacceptable in real life. Then, they act surprised when there are real-life consequences to their “jokes.”

Take for an example former Kansas State student Paige Shoemaker’s racially offensive Snapchat photo. She thought this would be published among her friends as Snapchat seems to be more of a private social media. However, all it took was a screenshot for it to become a matter of national concern for racism, as reported by the Collegian and national media outlets.

Besides filtering potential jobs and cyberbullying, social media has other negative effects on our lives such as messing with the ability to develop our own opinions and thoughts.

A German study showed Facebook users tend to compare themselves with their ‘friends,’ which causes a great deal of frustration and feelings of alienation, especially when they have less feedback, such as comments and likes, than their friends, according to Damon Beres’ article “5 weird negative effects of social media on your brain.”

Is this really the world you want to live in, one that finds cyberbullying harmless and deprives us from reasoning? I would encourage everyone to think about this before posting on social media again.

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