You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube, but in hindsight, social media probably shouldn't have been invented. Hell, even Chamath Palihapitiya, the former head of growth at Facebook, admitted "we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works." The founder of Napster and onetime president of Facebook, Sean Parker, has also expressed similar fears.
This is not to say that social media has no advantages. For one, people used Twitter and Facebook during the hurricanes in Houston and Florida to alert rescue workers of their location. Hell, social media makes it a lot harder for the establishment to maintain gatekeepers. At the same time, people are also finding their way into extremist movements more and more often.
Social media is likely raising our stress, causing a fear of missing out and leading to new and exotic forms of online harassment. There's also the problem that these tech companies, who wield enormous power, are becoming more and more politicized. But perhaps even more worryingly, social media is driving people further and further into the extremes. It's not as fun to hear the other side's argument. Instead, the comfortable place is to sit in your echo chamber. And the only place to go in an echo chamber is more extreme.
Indeed, CGP Grey made a great video about this where he talks about how the Internet, and social media in particular, is making us angry. But it's not so much angry at the other side. It's discussions with our own side about how angry the other side makes us. We are hearing what the other side thinks through little more than critique:
And the research on this matter seems to confirm the theory. As one study notes "Social Networks Spread Anger much More Effectively Than They Spread Joy or Sadness."
I have no society-wide answer for this. But personally, I would highly recommend to take a break from social media. Use it sparingly, if at all. And get out in the real world and spend time with real people, not whatever Avatar they use in cyberspace.
"Every day is a new life to the wise man."
The Righteous Mind
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