20 Reasons Not to Use Social Media
The use of social media for personal and business purposes is now so widespread that there is a tendency to ignore the negatives of networking and instead focus entirely on the positives.
There are some distinct downsides to the use of social media, however, including social, psychological and criminal issues. Users can be defrauded, mislead, or just end up wasting lots of time without any positive outcomes. Young users may fail to learn real life social skills if they over rely on social networking.
I list the most common negatives below in more detail.
When a human being becomes a set of data on a website like Facebook, he or she is reduced. Everything shrinks. Individual character. Friendships. Language. Sensibility. In a way it’s a transcendent experience: we lose our bodies, our messy feelings, our desires, our fears.— Zadie Smith
1. Scams and Deception
Social networking sites can be used to commit scams, spread computer viruses, or defraud users by stealing their identity.
2. Privacy Issues
There are major privacy issues associated with social networking. It is not always clear who is able to read your profile and personal information. An embarrassing photo of you drunk at a party might be seen by a parent or relative, or unguarded comments made about your job might be seen by your manager. Many major sites have also been shown to be insecure, when it comes to looking after personal information and financial details.
3. Over-promotion and Adverts
Commercial over-promotion and unwanted advertising can be a constant problem, especially on sites such as Twitter. Facebook is also increasingly advertising orientated. Individuals or businesses constantly attempt to befriend users purely for promoting products and services.
4. Incorrect Information
The phenomenon of "fake news" has become a major issue in recent times, with much of the factual information on social media turning out to be incorrect or misleading. Sometimes it is just badly sourced, but there can be more sinister intentions at work.
There's a danger in the internet and social media. The notion that information is enough, that more and more information is enough, that you don't have to think, you just have to get more information - gets very dangerous.— Edward de Bono
5. Echo Chamber
Social media sites can operate like "echo chambers", reinforcing currently held prejudices or opinions and not presenting the user with ideas which may challenge or disagree with their world view. Rather than bringing people together, they make society divided and fractious.
6. Information Overload
There is a sense of "information for information's sake". The user is exposed to vast amounts of data and news, but there is very little depth or learning generated. People are overwhelmed by information and gains are minimal.
7. Time Waster
They can also be tremendous time wasters. Whether it is in work or personal time, people can sometimes while away many hours on social networking sites without any obvious benefits deriving from the experience. Career opportunities, academic achievement, and even physical health may suffer as a result.
8. Bullying, Stalking, and Harrassment
These sites are often a dream come true for bullies, stalkers, and harrassers. It can be possible for unscrupulous people to work out a user’s contact details, location and movements from social networking sites, or send them threatening messages anonymously. People can be bullied not just with words, but with embarrassing photographs and other media too.
9. Terrorism and Hate Groups
Social media is used by terrorist and hate groups to spread their propaganda, recruit new membership, and direct sympathizers.
10. Social Disconnect and Depression
10. Some psychologists have voiced concerns that increasingly social networking is replacing real life relationships with negative results. Children and young people are especially vulnerable, as they may never fully develop social skills, if they rely purely on social networking on their computer. Social media may also contribute towards mental health problems like depression.
11. Self Esteem
Using social media can lead to a focus on the achievements of others, rather than one's own life. It may appear that everybody else has a dream life while your own is flawed. Studies have shown that excessive use of social media can lead to anxiety and low self esteem.
12. Superficial Friends
Social media encourages an unhealthy emphasis on having large numbers of superficial relationships. Yes, you may have over 500 friends, but how many of them really matter in the real world? There are good reasons to focus on real life relationships.
13. Unwelcome Friend Requests
You may be approached by people that you don't want to be in contact with. Coworkers can be awkward sometimes, because you may not want them to know your private life. Ex-lovers, people you knew at school or college, estranged relatives can all be sometimes unwelcome too.
Social media websites are no longer performing an envisaged function of creating a positive communication link among friends, family and professionals. It is a veritable battleground, where insults fly from the human quiver, damaging lives, destroying self-esteem and a person's sense of self-worth.— Anthony Carmona
14. Data Safety
Your data may not me safe. Unscrupulous organizations may steal it by nefarious means, or the social media company itself may sell the data or allow access to it without your knowledge.
15. Political Manipulation
Social media can be used by unscrupulous organizations to manipulate and sway elections and political views. Even if you don't vote, they can use your personal information or get to your friends via you.
16. Cheating Tool
Social media can be used by children to cheat on their homework or school assignments.
Unauthorized sharing online can lead to artists, musicians, and businesses missing out on potential earnings and royalties from their work. It has become almost impossible to control certain types of intellectual property.
Once something is posted on the internet, it is very difficult and usually impossible to delete or recall it. A drunken photo may result in a job interview failure five years later. Any minor legal or social discretion can now have profound implications that you may never escape. A loose comment could come back to haunt you and be used in divorce proceedings, for example.
These days young kids don't have any place to form an epic adventure. It's more often in front of the TV screen or a laptop. That's very hard on them. They're being taught daily unsocial skills. Facebook is an unsocial skill. It's so sad.— John Lydon
Social media can provide a platform for "sexting", where teenagers and others send nude or semi-nude photos to each other. This can result in criminal proceedings, or the images being stolen by unscrupulous pornography websites.
The big social media companies hold a tremendous amount of power and it's effectively concentrated in the hands of just a handful of people. Their power is not just financial, they can also influence the lives of millions through their policies, including which posts they promote, how they manage personal data, and which users they decide to ban..
What is your favorite social media site?
© 2017 Paul Goodman