We all use it. We all probably use it daily. We say that it enhances our lives through availability of information and interpersonal connections. It’s social media and it is in large part a malignant abscess of humanity existing right at our fingertips.
Virtually every average adult has at least one social media account. Many of us have several. We use them for two reasons. Of those two reasons, one is stated and one is not. All adults who have accounts use them for one or both of these reasons: information and narcissism. While both these traits don’t apply to everyone equally, at least one applies in all cases and in many situations, both.
It’s true that social media has made us more connected than ever. However because virtually all human emotions can now be experienced through a screen, it has arguably made us less connected than ever, at least in any meaningful sort of way. Speaking strictly about access to information – news, sports, lifestyle, etc. – social media has had a transformative effect on humanity. Everything, literally everything, is available at a moment’s notice through various sources. Through social media not only can you access developing stories immediately, but you can do it through the lens of your own personal worldview filtered by who you follow, like, or befriend in the world of the internet. In doing this, we can change the content of what we read to match what we believe. It is in this way that even when viewing factual information, social media can alter it enough to match the values of the user.
The most abundant use of social media is for purposes of self-service. Through virtually all mediums you’ll see an abundance of narcissistic grown people using social media for their own vainglory. This happens in a variety of ways and largely depends on which social media application you are using. No matter the app or use of it, however, the sole purpose is self-gratification. On Facebook this takes the form of the visual glorification of one’s life through pictures and oversharing. On Instagram it’s done with selfies and filters to falsely boost one’s self-esteem based on public perception. On Twitter this is achieved through pandering and reciprocal pandering. While it changes forms in various ways and occasionally changes entirely based on the platform, it all serves the same essential purpose of narcissistic fulfillment.
In this new multi-part series, we’ll examine the effects that social media has on the two purposes it serves, information and narcissism, and how those effects impact individuals and what purpose they serve. Social media is the quintessential example of a double-edged sword and unfortunately, most of us are using it far too irresponsibly. If you view it critically, most people shouldn’t be using it at all. However, similar to other hugely consequential areas of life that are haphazardly open to the general public for free like voting and procreating, having a social media account requires no existing intelligence level or even a license to practice.