Social and Cultural Issues of Interactive Digital Media (KIT311/KIT611)
Semester 1, 2019
Assignment 2 (individual) worth 20% of your total marks "Awareness"
For Assignment 1 you looked at mobile phones and explored two different perspectives, namely utopian and dystopian futures. For Assignment 2 you need to focus on the damages that are allegedly afflicted upon humanity by social media.
The Hacker Noon blog post "I’m a digital addict and so are you"1 is a good starting point but you need to read widely to make your arguments and to back your claims such that they meet academic writing standards!
Use the different perspectives2 that we discussed in the lecture post3 utopia/dystopia to explain how the alleged damages eventuate and also to explore how they could possibly be mitigated.
Unleash your creativity! Assignments need to cover the different perspectives however I am open to non-traditional ways of presenting your findings using forms of expression other than written text. Your assigment may consist of mixed modes such as a written part and another part presented in different media. I am fairly open re formats but please check with me if you think about presenting your finding as say, interpretative dance.
Written up as an essay this assignment should consist of 2,500-3,000 words for individual students (scaled up in the case of groupwork). Any non-text part needs to reflect a contribution similar to the textual part that it replaces.
Written parts should be in standard English, free of grammar and spelling errors, and set in a 12 pt font. Referencing should follow Harvard style.
Submit your essay to the Assignment 2 drop box on MyLO by the due date. Please include name and student ID in the document! Check with the lecturer if there is no easy way to dropbox your work.
Damages afflicted on humanity by social media
The growth of social media as a tool to develop interpersonal relationships with far away and unknown people can increase in the recent century. There are many social media websites like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace among others. The network of the medium has impacted billions of life both positively and negatively. The paper discusses the negative impact of the social media on human beings in terms of human connection, interaction, mental health, violence, physical health and also provides sufficient findings of the issues based on various studies. The paper specifically focuses on the alleged damages that are inflicted by social media on humanity and hence the name of the title of this assignment.
Damages afflicted by social media on humanity
Social media hugely impacts the daily lives of the people and has created a new style of communication. Social media brings people with common interests and ideas together as well as expands the horizon worldwide. However, there has also been a negative impact of the platform on human behaviour as well as society.
The daily use of the platform has increased so much among the people that it is slow acting as a poison to the behaviour of every individual.
The use of social media increases so much so that people are using the technology to establish communications with their friends, colleagues, and families as opposed to the traditional face to face interaction. Social media has the tendency to bond people closely without regards to time or distance. When people become more dependent on social media to communicate they gradually lose the competence to interact with other people face-to-face. Lack of the traditional face to face communication tends to make people forget to represent their emotions on a verbal basis, and they become deficient in using proper body language to express themselves.
Oral communication is the process of delivering verbal information spoken in organised form to express emotions or to deliver spoken messages. Verbal communication is the best way to communicate during formal situations and also non-formal situations. Without the practice of enough face-to-face communication, people are inclined to develop hesitations to speak to people, fear of speaking wrong words at wrong times and also tendency to not express their thoughts as well as opinions. Spending more time on social media in comparison to more face-to-face interaction can develop a feeling of exclusion and loneliness among the individuals (Pittman and Reich, 2016, pp. 155-167).
According to Forbes, studies show that only seven percent of communication is based on verbal interaction and 93 percent of the communication among the people is based on nonverbal or online communication (Tardanico, 2019). Anyone in social media can hide behind their profiles and text or project any image they like without the ability to interact on a face-to-face basis with other people.
According to a 2015 research by Pew research center based in Washington DC, it was found out that social media induces more stress in the lives of the people than any other factors. People in social media need to vent about everything from customer services to politics. In the survey, a major portion of the women population was found to be more stressed than the male population. In the same survey, twitter was found to be a considerable factor in the stress-inducing phenomenon.
In 2014 researchers in Austria found that significant numbers of people were found to have severe mood after spending twenty minutes on Facebook compared to the ones who just browsed the internet without visiting any social media websites. The study also suggested that the probable cause of the feeling was due to the fact that people thought they were wasting time by being logged into Facebook.
Researchers have also looked into the fact that social media was responsible for provoking anxiety in people due to the characterised feeling of restlessness and worry. The probable cause was also seen as trouble in sleeping due to excessive use of social media websites and trouble in concentrating due to personal events in the social media (Althoff, Jindal and Leskovec, 2017, pp. 537-546). According to a study published in the journal of computers and human behaviours it was found that people who were using more than five social media websites at a time are more likely to develop anxiety symptoms than the people who are using less than three or none.
Some studies have even linked the use of social media websites and depression; there are several studies where the researchers have found that students and job goers are more likely to be depressed any other individual. The reasons were due to the feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness. Other reasons to support the study were linked to cyber bullying and online mental and sexual harassment of individuals.
Research has found out that artificial lighting can inhibit the body's production of the hormone melatonin which helps to facilitate sleep. The light which is emitted from the screen of mobile devices and laptops also known as blue light causes to the body to deprive of natural sleep and induces stress. People were mostly found to be checking their social media websites in the night and the harmful rays emitted by the screen during the night induces insomnia in the long run.
Several studies have concluded the fact that social media addiction is a severe form of addiction and individuals with social media addictions require professional help. Just like any other addiction the addiction to social media is meant to affect the relationship, academics, and participation in the offline community's work (Brown, 2019). Social media addiction makes the person a highly extrovert individual and makes them sever ties with all the relationships in their natural life.
Social media has found to be lowering the self-esteem of the individuals and create image issues among people especially women of all ages. Social media enable its users to apply filters on the photos taken by them before posting which indirectly means that the person is not good enough in terms of facial image or real image and needs to apply some visual structure to the photos to make it perceptible to another people. A study based on 1000 Facebook users from Sweden found that women who spent more time browsing through social media sites like Twitter or Facebook were less confident. The research concluded that other users who were seemingly happier than the participants made them unhappy as a result of low self-esteem (Oppedal and Idsoe, 2015, pp.203-211).
All types of bullying and abuses cause significant emotional distress as well as psychological distress within human beings. Cyber bullying or cyber abuse is the phenomenon where an individual is harassed or abused in the medium of the internet. The medium comprises of all types of social media including Twitter, Facebook, Integra and even video websites such as YouTube among others. The impact of cyber bullying leads to fear, anxiety, low self-esteem and even depression among the people especially kids.
The participation of a group of people into cyber bullying an individual can be crushing and sometimes it may feel that the entire world except the victim knows what is going on with their life. The stress of dealing with cyber abuse can sometimes overwhelm the victim with emotions leading to eventual depressive symptoms and other mental health problems.
The victim to cyber bullying often feels vulnerable as well as powerless. Basically, this is due to the fact that cyber bullies can invade their privacy through their mobile devices or through their laptops. The victims feel that they have no place to escape and feel like the bullies are everywhere (Whittaker and Kowalski, 2015, pp.11-29). Since the cases of cyber bullying associated with social media websites occur on the internet; therefore, the victims know that when something is out there, it will always be present. The messages or nasty posts or images can be shared with a significant number of people which can create an intense feeling of embarrassment for the bullied individual.
Sometimes the victim of cyber bullying gets angry, and they can take harsh steps against the people who were behind the mental assault. This can lead to potential crime and destroy the career and life if the victim is found guilty of the crime. During ongoing cyber bullying victims often feel hopeless and find their life meaningless. They tend to lose interest in things they once used to take pleasure in and spend less time cooperating with their loved ones (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2015, pp.227-237). In some cases, the victims often set into depression and develop suicidal tendencies.
Sometimes the assaulters hide behind fake social media accounts to target their victims. The cyber bullies know everything about their targets in each case whereas the unknown identity of the cyber bullies can lead to suspicion of the victims towards their peers and eventually lead to alienation.
It was found in a study that the group of people most affected by cyber bullying is the young age group and in countries such as the US and the UK, more than 25 percent of the teenagers have been a victim or participated in some form cyber bullying in their lifetime.
There are multiple studies conducted that shows a reduction in the size of the grey matter in individuals with social media addictions. The grey matters are the sites where organising, impulse control, planning, prioritising and procession takes place in the brain (Gordon, 2019). If the grey matter shrinks then it becomes increasingly difficult for people to do their daily activities. Social media addictions can contribute to the restructuring of the white matter. White matter is that part of the brain which helps to communicate the brain with other parts of the body. Children and teenagers are particular age groups who suffer from gradual brain restructuring.
Increased use of social media can increase the risk of development of cancer. According to a leading psychologist based in the UK, Dr. Aric Sigman presents in his study that the isolation that social media creates can actually lead to the development of brain tumors and may also alter the working of the genes. The basic fundamental behind the research was that bodies do different things when engaged with other people as compared to when the person do the same thing virtually. For example, the brain produces Oxytocin hormone which provides a feeling of bonding and closeness when interacting with other individuals (Gruver et al., 2016, p.e159). Lack of interaction can lead to the hormone not being secreted which can develop problems in the brain in the long run. Ultimately the gene alteration theory provided by Sigman challenges that increase in the isolation among individuals can lead to changes in the physical processes and eventually lead to a lot of health problems including but not limited to cancer.
The increasing use of social media can lead to untimely death of the individual. There are now a lot of studies which presents enough evidence to the increase in the usage of social media and its relation to early death. Too much screen time can lead to inactiveness of the individual which can lower the cardiovascular health of the person, decreased cardiovascular health can lead to premature heart attacks and slower the functions of the heart eventually leading to death due to cardiac arrest (Nucilli, 2019). A study conducted in 2011 demonstrates that adults who spent a minimum of four hours sitting in front of their laptop or mobile devices had a mortality rate of 50 percent more than an average person.
Increase in the use of social media can lead to unnecessary weight gain and lower the metabolism of the individual. There are a lot of studies present to show the relation between the lowered metabolism rate and screen on time of the individual. Exercising is not the only answer to increase the metabolism rate and lower weight. Research conducted by North-western University found out that bright lights emitted from devices such as mobiles and laptops can slow down the rate of metabolisms (Boyle et al., 2017, pp.2367-2379). Fundamentally these lights affect the cortisol levels of the body which in turn affects the secretion of insulin by the pancreas. When the insulin levels are affected the blood sugar levels rise and affect the metabolism of the body.
Sitting long hours in front of the laptop or the mobile devices browsing social media can lead to problems in the postures. The postures problems include depression in the ribcage and rounded shoulders which are internally rotated among others. Bad postures while sitting can influence the lumbar spine of the individual where prolonged exposure to bending posture while scrolling through the social media feeds can affect the spine to become out of shape.
Excessive screen time can lead to computer vision syndrome or CVS which is an eye condition. The main symptoms of CVS are dry and itchy eyes, eye strain, blurred vision and migraines among others (Agcaoglu et al., 2019).
Excessive use of social media can glamorise dangerous behaviours according to several studies usage of social media increases the poor life choices of the individuals especially teenagers such as smoking as well as drinking (Hoge, Bickham and Cantor, 2017, pp.S76-S80).
The paper concludes the significant impact of social media in terms of human connection. The use of social media has reduced the human connection and interaction between individuals to only online terms where the body language and methods of expression are not needed. The use of social media also affects the mental and physical health of the people. Mental health conditions include lowered self-esteem, lack of sleep, anxiety and possessing of depressive symptoms. Physical health conditions, on the other hand, include lowered metabolism leading to increased weight gain, out of shape postures of the body and several brain and eye conditions such as brain tumors and CVS among others. The paper also provides insights into social media as a tool for cyber bullying and cyber abuse. The individuals who are cyber abuses lives in a constant state of fear, and the paper finally concludes that cyber bullying is a type of mental assault which leaves a mark of humiliation in the minds of the victims forever.