I can admit I spend a lot of time on social media. We all do. On the way to work, on our holidays, during a night out. At the start of every morning and the end of every night, we are aware of the slaves we have become to social media, but we do it anyway.
Social media isn’t inherently bad. It’s a way of connecting with people, logging our memories and sharing our creativity. I wonder how many people I would have never met if it weren’t for social media, or the amount of jobs, events and opportunities I would have never seen. I don’t hate social media, just the stuff that happens on it.
In a recent survey by the Safety Net Report, 47% of the 1,089 respondents have received intimidating, threatening or nasty messages online. That’s practically a 50/50 chance of being treated like crap online.
While communication is supposed to be a crucial aspect of social media, 56% of young people have been excluded from chats and online groups. While apps like Instagram can be the source of inspiration and imagination, 38% of young people said social media has a negative impact on how they feel about themselves. It seems like the good intentions of the online world are getting lost somewhere down the road.
But we all know this, right? We all know that Facebook comments are riddled with trolls, and all sorts of nasty stuff gets thrown around Snapchat. The sad thing is, the bad side of social media is just what’s expected now. But how did it all happen, and what can be done?
You can tell somebody that the cyberbullying will disappear if they just delete their account. You can tell somebody to stop following that Instagram page that makes them feel like shit. And you wouldn’t be wrong, necessarily, but the problem is being swept under the carpet here, rather than dealt with. Shutting yourself off from trolls will be good for you, absolutely, but the assholes are still there.
It’s time for the social media giants to take some action. They need to wake up because we’re talking about big problems here. It’s not just a case of clearing up some online squabbles between a group of teenage girls. We need to tackle the side of social media which has become a firing range, with victims getting comment after comment hurtled at them and no clear way out.
Suicide rates in the UK and the USA have been increasing, and various studies have linked this to social media. If that’s not enough to make people realise something has to change, I don’t know what will.
We know change can happen. Facebook may be one of the most prominent companies in today’s society, but it’s not untouchable. Just think about this year’s Facebook’s privacy scandal, which has resulted in every website covering its back, demanding you to accept their cookies as you enter. Action can take place, if enough people are willing to point a finger at the problem.
But it’s not just about change. It’s about changing for the better. Every time I go on Instagram there seems to be a new update or face filter. If these apps are so keen to evolve, why aren’t they thinking more into the repercussions of their decisions? I mean, with the amount of cyber bullying on Instagram, is their new feature — which allows users to ask anonymous questions on Insta stories — the kindest idea? Remind users that they can report mean comments, sure, but are they actually going to believe you’ve got their back?
We seem to be resorting back to the times of Ask.fm — which came with an influx of bullying — when we should be pushing forward. Social media can be such an amazing place – is certainly is for me. But I want it to be like that for everyone. Is that so much to ask?