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13 Reasons Not to Use Social Media

Updated on May 1, 2017
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Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller, librarian, and freelance writer. 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.

1. Social networking sites can be employed to commit scams, spread computer viruses, or defraud users by stealing their identity.

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

2. 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. Spam 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 financial gain, promoting everything from prostitution to books to Viagra pills.

4. 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.

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. 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.

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

6. 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. 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.

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

8. These sites can be used for stalking and harassment purposes. It is often possible for unscrupulous people to work out a user’s location and movements from social networking sites, or send them threatening messages anonymously. Younger people can be bullied and not just through 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. Social media can be used for some pretty nefarious purposes, whether it is Islamist terrorists using it to attract new members, or murderers broadcasting their evil acts live on Facebook.

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.

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. Using social media can lead to a focus on the achievements of others, rather than the user's own life. Studies have shown that excessive use of social media can lead to anxiety and low self esteem.

12. Social media encourages an unhealthy emphasis on 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.

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

13. 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.

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

What is your favorite social media site?

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© 2017 Paul Goodman

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    • Pam Morris profile image

      Pam Morris 8 weeks ago from Atlanta Georgia

      Great article and very informative

    • divakar3368 profile image

      divakar3368 8 weeks ago from Maldives

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

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