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Overconsumption Of Social Media

Social media is taking control

In our life time, we have gone through a tech revolution, and for many, life is now dictated by social media, and the opportunities it brings. For all the positive by-products it offers though, there is a threat of overconsumption, as being constantly connected can give a sense of claustrophobia, and whilst many would say ‘just delete your accounts,’ there are lots of people out there who have never been without social media, and therefore feel as if it is a necessity.

Social Media Culture
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Whether at work, or in leisure hours, businesses have facilitated and increased the need to always be connected. Gone are the days where these two elements of a lifestyle were separate; they are now married, and this began after Blackberry enabled a move that ensured that instant connection was available regardless of location, through their own messaging system. The next step in the revolution was push notifications, and this pressurises the individual to respond in a timely fashion, and they also push the desire to feel like one belongs to something, a group, a community, whilst being able to contribute to it. This community now never sleeps, and people are producing content within it 24 hours a day.

This excessive lifestyle has to be taking its toll, and the proof is in a report carried out by Havas Worldwide in 2012, who found out that 60% of people feel exhausted by being constantly connected. We all do it though, and whilst we seemingly detest our over-reliance on technology, and its intrusive nature, we acknowledge that its benefits outweigh its frustrations. The initial distress is soon papered over, and within minutes we are back to texting, sharing photos of our roast dinners, and updating the world on how our new puppy just had an accident in the front room.

It’s the overconsumption that is the real problem though, and it is making people genuinely unhappy in their lives. Social media is similar to a drug as it gives a person a sense of belonging, but this is only brief, and then they are back to isolation, as the real-world cannot replicate such a convenient way of communication on a mass scale. The other side to why many are unhappy is because of their ‘friends.’ The term ‘friends’ has taken a new meaning over the past few years, as social media has adopted it. Social connections are not as real-time and reflective of whom we interact with in person, with each user having an average of 303 ‘friends.’ Even if someone is offensive, annoying, or unknown, we rarely delete any of our ‘friends,’ and with only 10% of our ‘friend’ lists considered true friends, it means our news feeds are bombarded by vague acquaintances and unknown people who we share no values with, or experiences.

Social Media Culture
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In addition to the lack of personal connection, leading a dual lifestyle can also make one feel distressed whilst online. You can be smart on the internet, and when you are presented with the opportunity to create a platonic version of yourself, a type without the normal flaws, it gives you the opportunity to manipulate. This has its downsides, because the moment you engage in real-life relationships, the inevitable flaws of your human self will be on display, and your confidence will suffer. There are no Instagram filters in real-life, neither can you ask a pedestrian to look at your face from a particular angle.

There is a counter argument to suggest that portraying yourself in the way you want to can be a therapeutic practice, and can lead to self-actualisation, but the evidence here is thin. In reality, there are too many people stressing about physical image rather than genuine, interesting interaction. What do you expect though? The internet is full of false idealised body images (especially female) and it is increasingly becoming a place that enforces how you should lead your life, and how you should look.

This issue will not disappear, as people are becoming even more connected than ever. Mobile connectivity is now taking over, which means that you can literally be attached to the likes of Facebook and Twitter 24 hours a day. Despite these flaws in the social media system, it offers a huge advantage to businesses, and gives people the opportunity to connect with relatives and friends who live a great distance away. From a cultural point of view there is harm being done, but that is no fault of social media, as it is up to the users to recognise that there are other ways of communicating with another human being other than through social media.

Alex Smith

Alex is an English Literature and Sociology undergraduate whose love for written word has led him to write about some obscure topics in his time. Currently a content writer at Social Media Frontiers, be sure to follow him @AlexSatSMF.

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Overconsumption Of Social Media Reviewed by Unknown on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 Rating: 5
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