20 Reasons Not to Use Social Media

Updated on March 31, 2018
BigBrains profile image

Since graduating university, Paul has worked as a bookseller, librarian, and educator. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.

The use of social media is now widespread, both as a personal and business way of connecting with others.  There are some real downsides to networking, however, the main ones I list below.
The use of social media is now widespread, both as a personal and business way of connecting with others. There are some real downsides to networking, however, the main ones I list below. | Source

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.

One of the tiresome things about social media is the amount of unwanted attention from individuals and businesses seeking to befriend purely to promote a product, gain personal information, or attempt to defraud.
One of the tiresome things about social media is the amount of unwanted attention from individuals and businesses seeking to befriend purely to promote a product, gain personal information, or attempt to defraud. | Source

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.

Some users experience a definite sense of information overload when social networking.  A vast amount of news and knowledge is received, but most of it is not taken in or processed by the user.  It can cause anxiety and a sense of being overwhelmed.
Some users experience a definite sense of information overload when social networking. A vast amount of news and knowledge is received, but most of it is not taken in or processed by the user. It can cause anxiety and a sense of being overwhelmed. | Source

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.

Cyber bullying, harassment, and stalking are all unfortunate practices that occur in the world of social media.  Negative people often take advantage of internet anonymity to harass other users.  Women and young people are particularly vulnerable.
Cyber bullying, harassment, and stalking are all unfortunate practices that occur in the world of social media. Negative people often take advantage of internet anonymity to harass other users. Women and young people are particularly vulnerable. | Source

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.

Some psychologists have raised the concern that many young people may substitute social networking for real life relationships and not learn the necessary skills to live a happy and successful life.  Increasingly social contact is virtual.
Some psychologists have raised the concern that many young people may substitute social networking for real life relationships and not learn the necessary skills to live a happy and successful life. Increasingly social contact is virtual. | Source

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.

Adopting a public persona can grow tiresome.  Social networking involves focusing on your image and how you are perceived by others, this can grow to be very stressful over time.
Adopting a public persona can grow tiresome. Social networking involves focusing on your image and how you are perceived by others, this can grow to be very stressful over time. | Source

16. Cheating Tool

Social media can be used by children to cheat on their homework or school assignments.

17. Copyright

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.

18.Permanent Traces

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

19. Sexting

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.

20. Power

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?

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Questions & Answers

  • What alternatives are there to using social media?

    Many psychological studies show that socializing face to face has more positive effects on mental health than communicating online. Social media casts a wide net, but socializing in person or even over the phone has more depth, as subtleties of expression as well as emotions can be better expressed. Socializing in person doesn't necessarily have to involve eating and drinking. Joining a sports club can enable the benefits of physical exercise, as well as social contact. Learning a new skill by attending a class can increase knowledge and aptitude, as well as providing a means of developing relationships.

© 2017 Paul Goodman

Comments

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    • TheShadowSpecter profile image

      Jason B Truth 

      9 days ago from United States of America

      Paul? You make a lot of interesting points in your article. I think that Google's abuse of its monopoly over most of the Internet has worsened all the problems that you just described. Google has demonetized and even has gone as far as suspending YouTubers' accounts indefinitely for no legitimate reason. At the same time, they allow other Internet users to get away with just about everything. Yet this same corporate colossus seems to be legally untouchable. The Internet needs some kind of cyber czar who will put an end to all these problems.

    • divakar3368 profile image

      divakar3368 

      16 months ago from Maldives

      Super article.....clearly stated the downsides...

    • Pam Morris profile image

      Pam Morris 

      16 months ago from Atlanta Georgia

      Great article and very informative

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