By definition, a social network website is “a phrase used to describe any website that enables users to create public profiles within that website and form relationships with other users of the same website who access their profile”. Most people use these websites in order to connect with friends, families, acquaintances and to occasionally meet new people. Worldwide, there are over 200 well known social network sites, and this does not even include dating websites! The most popular sites are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn. But how often do we use them and is it too much, or just the way society is now?
An article in The Telegraph from May 2015 showed that 16-24 year olds spend around 27 hours a week online – a seventh of their time! Four out of five people also have a social media account of some sort and log onto them at least once a day. At the beginning of 2015, 3.010 billion people were active internet users and 2.078 billion had active social media accounts; Facebook accounts for more than one billion of these, Instagram receive more than 100 million users a month and Twitter has more than 307 million users a month. Now I’m not saying don’t use social media as I myself have accounts, I just believe we need to re-evaluate the reason we have them.
This is why, in my opinion, social media has become a first world problem. It causes issues amongst friends, family and turns us into unkind people and very two-faced. It makes us paranoid and unable to trust anyone, believing there is always a hidden agenda to a certain status or a simple ‘like’ or ‘retweet’. This is definitely not an ideal way to live our lives. Communicating with people behind some sort of screen turns you into someone you’re not – many people feel confident behind a keyboard, when in real life you’re actually very shy and reserved. Which of course there is nothing wrong with, but some may see it as a weakness and try to exploit it. There have been countless times where I’ve seen paranoia caused by social media – whether it be a vague status, an indirect tweet or a simple like of a photo on Instagram. People are so self-involved that they are vain enough to think everything is about them! Or is it more of a sign of guilt believing this?
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. are sites where you can follow or ‘be friends’ with people, but this tends to lure a lot of users into a false sense of security as many have 300+ friends or followers, but how many of these would we talk to if we saw them in the street or had to confide in someone about a problem? I would say only about 10 of my online friends come into this category. The rest are just people I know.
We now spend so much time on the internet that we have stopped communicating as human beings should – talking to one another. A social skill severely lacking in today’s younger generation. When there is a gathering of either friends or family, how many people sit around on their tablets or smartphones? My guess would be about 50% or more. When I am with my boyfriend we try to not use our phones or social media too often, if not we know we would ruin the essence of our relationship and the great chemistry we share. Ask yourself this; when was the last time you picked up the phone to ring someone to see how they are, or simply how life is treating them? Most of the time we take the easy option of sending a text message or a WhatsApp. It is sad when we think about traditions that are slowly dying out – like the art of writing. And that includes writing anything with a pen and a piece of paper. Everything is done electronically now and it is a sad thing to see. I personally am a huge stationary geek and I love nothing more than getting a new notebook and pen and attempting to write. It is something that is enjoyable and you can easily get lost in it – it’s also a cheap hobby to have! Now writing a status has replaced a tradition journal, posting a picture on Instagram has replaced the art of photography. All of these genuine skills have lost their value and worth.
What is real?
Instagram is a network where we feel like we can virtually live a lifestyle of the rich and famous. Many celebrities post daily updates with snippets of their glamourous lives, but this has created a downward spiral as many people spend time and money on acting and looking like these people. It has created some materialistic dimension that we now live in and nothing holds true value anymore. It has made us want stuff we can’t have or can’t be bothered to go out and earn for themselves. People now are famous for having no talent or worth in the world and creates a feeling of being hard done by or life not being fair. The truth is, these people have been lucky or seriously disgraced themselves to be a celebrity. We all know how Kim Kardashian became famous after all!
Instagram is also a place where people post only interesting updates to make their lives look more interesting and fun (guilty, again!). If we all actually posted what we did on a day to day basis, no one would follow us or like our pictures as they would be as dull as the weather on a bank holiday weekend. At some point we need to look at the world and ourselves and realise that our lives are the reality and we should stop living in a fantasy.