I think it’s fair to say that social media has truly revolutionised the way most of us live over the last 5 years. With the convenience of smart phone apps, I can be in touch with literally millions of people at the click of a button But is this healthy for us?
The problem I have with social media is exactly to do with that convenience. It’s just so easy to have an opinion on any subject and we hide behind our screens and sometimes forget that we are commenting in a very public way.
A few times recently, I’ve seen people engaging in conversations that are open to anyone to join where the comments can only be described as highly offensive. Very few of us would direct extreme language to a complete stranger in a face to face conversation and yet it appears that this is now common in social media and the world of internet gaming. This becomes a problem when those experiencing high levels of aggression and verbal or written abuse towards them are children or vulnerable adults and there is no way of knowing about the live of the person you are talking to.
The other issue with social media is that we don’t have access to the social cues that we get from face to face contact. It’s hard to tell whether an extreme opinion is given tongue in cheek or is a genuine belief. I’ve seen posts and videos that were clearly an attempt at satire or irony and yet the comments that followed made it clear that many people took the comments in a very literal sense. Thats why I like to use video conferencing such as Skype for my distance therapy. Simply discussing issues over the telephone is a tricky business.
We seem to be falling in to a world where aggressive and territorial behaviour is actively encouraged, something that we had previously been evolving away from. It’s no wonder that gang warfare and acts of violence are increasing. We are bringing our virtual experiences in to real life. Our fantasies are becoming the reality.
I visited my mother this week and watched evening TV for the first time in six months. she was watching a detective series and the level of highly graphic violence shocked me. This used to be something we only saw in 18+ movies, never on mainstream TV. It was a reminder for me to cancel my unused TV licence. I’m not sure whether at 43, I am officially old but I’m really beginning to see where Mary Whitehouse was coming from!