The Influence of Social Media

The positive and negative effects on human interaction as the world becomes more reliant of social media

   Over the past few months, the expression “permanently online” has begun to float around the social media world. It refers to the habit of being online and connected with other users almost all the time. While most people gauge the world from the perspective of their real lives, those that are permanently online see everything through an online lens.


   In last month’s Uproar Radio episode titled “Communicating in the 21st Century”, host Bryant had a conversation with Professor Bruce Getz from the Department of Communication. As noted by Professor Getz, the conversation over technology has shifted considerably over the last 10 years. We used to be more concerned with what technology did for us, but now we are becoming worried about its potentially harmful effects.


   “I think with increasing use comes increased concern that our use is healthy, whatever that means to you, and the short answer, the really short answer, is I don’t know. … At the end of the day, we just can’t know for sure. We just haven’t had enough time to understand,” said Getz when asked if he thought that statistics regarding cell phone usage amongst teens and parents had increased since the original survey in 2011.


   When it comes to social media usage, the mental and emotional effects are quite easy to spot. Symptoms such as increased stress, feelings of inadequacy, and the fear of missing out plague those that frequent online social spaces. Every day people are relying more heavily on social media for everything from news to humor, and the pandemic has only made it worse.


   Nowadays, spotting evidence of being permanently online is easy, namely on sites like Twitter where users commonly make posts that show a different world view. From tweets calling friends “IRL mutuals” to people creating crazy scenarios for “clout,” it is clear that the default way of human thinking and interaction is shifting and, understandably, that some may find that threatening.

Fern Whitmire


   However, social media is not automatically a purely negative thing. It gives us the power to forge relationships and connections we may have never had otherwise, as well as opportunities to learn something new. The key thing to remember, as in all things, is balance.


    We have the power to curate our own spaces by following who we like and blocking who we don’t, and when it all gets to be a little too much, we can walk away. In the end, social media and the internet at large are what you make of it. Always put yourself first, online and in the real world, and remember that you do not have to carry everything you see and hear online with you.