Social Media’s Reality Distortion
Suzi Darrington is once again sat in the ‘Listener’s Chair’ alongside Stuart and William for this listener question from Ronny, in Denchworth, Oxfordshire, England.
“Are young people's perception of reality distorted by the cultural influences of their preferred social media platforms?”
Suzi talks about the different phones she had when younger, saying her first smartphone was at the age of 12. Her generation grew up with social media, and has always had it as a big part of her life. She’s never had a phone that didn’t have social media on it. In the past you’d have to dedicate time to social media, she now carries it around in her back pocket. This makes her feel a bit trapped, but acknowledges she puts it on herself. The conclusion is social media is an addiction, it taps into addictive behaviours, similar to how fruit machines entice people.
The next generation are getting much shorter form content, that’s more addictive, and Suzi can see how this kind of content could shape views. There's a growing community of men who hate women, with the social media world reshaping reality. Suzi delves into the reality of how these men hate women, and how they look up to individuals who perpetuate those thoughts. Her conclusion is that she’d need to be really self aware to fully understand the impact Instagram has had on her, with the content being so clean and saturated. She feels Instagram has placed a pressure on how she looks and gives her an unrealistic expectation of reality. Even the content that’s supposed to show reality, itself has been curated and selected.
Social media has a bigger influence on her when she isn’t busy. When she’s got things to do, she uses it less. After re-reading the question Suzi talks about how each social media platform has a different feeling, and in fact over her lifetime these platforms have changed.
Material that is against what you believe is pushed to you just to get a reaction, as it keeps engagement on that platform’ It engenders arguments, which in turn distorts people’s perception of reality. Suzi feels that social media is heading towards more short form content, more outrage, trying to keep people on the platforms as much as possible. Consuming, commenting, reacting.
Tik Tok has been accused of causing frenzies of activity, and yes, social media can be a great place to connect, but a bad place to feel you truly belong.
William raises an action we can all consider is to do nothing, and feel comfortable with being bored, and to change the word to want rather than to need. We need to stop filling our time with ‘stuff’ and activity, and spend time actively just sitting and being.
Stuart asks where this kind of thinking and behaviour is going? Both he and William lived before the advent of social media, which prompts Suzi to ask what they actually did with their time.
They just got on with life!
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