Our addiction to social media is growing, and some hold the view that our critical thinking skills are plummeting simultaneously. The information age has changed everything. Our ancestors relied on brute strength and unbridled aggression to dominate their environment.
Today, a click of a mouse and a computer does most of the work for us. And unlike the heuristically programmed algorithmic computer in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, our modern computer friend HAL is not a sentient being. However, our addiction to technology and social media, in particular, continues.
The rise of fake news on some platforms is reshaping the way information is disseminated and makes misinformation more widely available. But fake news isn’t the only thing we have to worry about.
Sometimes we sabotage ourselves by overusing Facebook, for example. Growing up in the age of social media, many of us were teenagers when we first got Facebook. That launched interaction with family, friends and, gasp, strangers on an unknown platform with never-before-seen parameters. At the outset, parents were the first ones to ring the alarm on subjects like cyberbullying and identity theft.
Never before has our private information been so available to anyone who wishes to mine it for their own purpose, and these people can run the gamut from marketing professionals to outright criminals. A Netflix documentary titled The Social Dilemma provided such damning examples that many people canceled their social media accounts after viewing it.
Social Media and Self-Harm
Suicide was a troubling trend in the early days of Facebook, with an increase in suicide and cutting rates for teenage girls. Self-harm went on the rise and suicides had a shocking 150 percent increase. While these platforms were created by people who are technology fans and probably just wanted to create a new arena to help people communicate, there are opponents that argue social media is having extremely negative consequences on society.
There are times when people overexpose themselves without meaning to. Take the example of the car accident. Perhaps you have been rear-ended by another driver and were angry because of their negligence. In a fit of anger, it may be very tempting to post photos and information on social media. But any lawyer will tell you it’s very important to not post anything at all. Why? Anything you publicly upload can be used by the other parties’ legal team to build a case against you.
Another real threat involving both social media and driving is, of course, distracted driving. Distracted driving laws in Florida, as an example, were put on the books because of the growing number of wrecks attributed to cell phone use.
Is Social Media Is Making Us Stupid?
There are varying points of view regarding the use of social media and not everyone believes it is making us less intelligent. Psychology Today reports that social media use may not, in fact, make us dumber, but rather help some users increase their knowledge of news and global affairs.
They argue that while studies document Facebook use and learning problems may be connected, those who spend an inordinate amount of time on it may not be the best students to begin with. For people like this, they argue, social media can actually be a learning platform. So, as in the case of many modern dilemmas, it’s hard to determine whether social media actually diminishes intelligence.