The Limits of Social Media and The Potential of the Internet

July 16, 2016
By TimothyGreen SILVER, Wesley Chapel, Florida
TimothyGreen SILVER, Wesley Chapel, Florida
9 articles 0 photos 0 comments

"You have the world at your fingertips," is a common phrase uttered to my generation. Yet, we never stop to consider what that means. It’s just another excuse to log on Twitter and spout off your opinions about your relationship goals or how you wish the opposite sex would behave some way. Or it’s an excuse to log on Snapchat and record a video of you brushing your teeth and because you can you add the canine filter on top. Is that the world at your fingertips or just your little claustrophobic bubble?

People don't talk in a hundred and forty characters, people don't live for all moments of their life to be recorded. This is not me raging at the internet and how it’s eating our brains away; this is me encouraging the actual exploration of the internet. Your leisure time internet usage should not be limited to social media, it leads to you living in an echo chamber of your closest 400 friends or followers.

The internet probably in one year probably archives a lot more information than the hundred years previous to the advent of the internet. It begs the question how are people becoming less informed and more ignorant when they speak, it is a result of a social media environment that causes a psychological term coined group polarization. On Twitter moderate thinkers become more extreme that’s why it appears to be a lot more bigots or racist that there actually is in the world. The internet provides so many primary sources for us to come up with our own unique opinions, but we choose to follow the opinions of those that don’t challenge our biases.

The willingness to live just for social media has turned social media into its own machine that reaches into the real world. If something cannot be turned into a soundbite, a witty Twitter post, or a meme it is found less interesting. Consider that DJ Khaled revived his fading career by making a couple sayings like "Be a star. Be a Superstar." or "They’ll try to close the door on you… Just open it.", which are both lines that are a 140-characters or less. DJ Khaled's rise in popularity is due to his tweet-ability and that is an example of how we are now living our life to serve social media and not to serve ourselves. We walk around in life these days searching for how we can feed the monster known as social media and not how it can help us.

This is not me denying social media has any redeemable qualities, but me stating that we have neglected those qualities. This can be a tool to promote social action and change, however, more and more the people speaking on social issues on Twitter has brought little to no change. Social media protesting results in a digital version of people talking over each other. However, it can be used to learn the basics of community organizing or creating visuals that will be imprinted in people's psyche. The internet, in general, should not be the end all be all of social expression, but a vessel to help out physical action and social media is one of those vessels.

The author's comments:

Social media and what to do beyond the hashtags is a major aspect of the social upheaval going on right now.

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