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The Double-Edged Sword of Social Media

The Double-Edged Sword of Social Media

By Edgar Louis de Gracia
HAPI Scholar

“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it?”Erik Qualman

The internet is a system of computer networks that has grown to wrap itself around our global consciousness. Decades after its conception, information on the internet has helped millions of would-be academics. Because of the internet, the world has changed drastically due to its impact on many different fields such as business, education, government, and more. Virtually all of us are now able to interact with one another thanks to the internet… specifically one of its most popular offshoots, social media.

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Social media has grown into an unwieldy beast of a system for sharing information, creating, and interacting with individuals. In simpler terms, social media sites are interactive technologies designed to allow a large number of people to interact with one another. Social media differs from your traditional media (your newspapers and your magazines) in quality, reach, and sheer accessibility.

While social media has brought people from all around the world together and has drawn us closer, its ease of use has seemingly also made us drift away from the people around us. One should put a limit on how much social media they consume and not let it affect their personal relationships. The current social media “climate” is pressure, with thousands of posts that make people question their body type, weight, or height instead of appreciating who they are.

Social media has ironically proven to have a divisive quality along with its connective quality – a yin to the yang. Primarily due to toxicity, many different communities go head to head against one another due to their undying adherence to one thing over the other, including (but definitely not limited to) religion. As the popularity of social media site like TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook has skyrocketed over the years, so has the toxic behavior within such platforms.

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It’s not uncommon to see toxic comments littered over a comment section, varying from death threats, degradation, and the encouragement of self-harm towards other netizens. Though harmless at first glance, it has been shown to have some degree of effect on people’s mental health. One such example is with Genshin Impact, a popular game on mobile devices and PC. Voice actors were being harassed by anonymous individuals on social media for no apparent reason other than being people who voiced a playable character in the game or for being part of the development company. Although these kinds of individuals are ultimately in the minority of netizens, that does not lessen the mental burden that victims had to go through.

Another notable example of toxicity is harassing individuals through their own posts or DM’ing them. I have seen certain groups on Facebook slandering other groups (though I will not mention their names out of respect, these types of behaviors can and do permeate social media). The aggression seems to be even worse in direct messages, wherein harassers send death threats or encourage people to be harmed. Celebrities especially get a lot of these, be they politicians or celebrities.

As humanists, we should help tone down the toxicity by promoting social interaction. Although we cannot prevent discrimination, hate speech, slander, and many other posts, we should at least be good role models for others to learn from.

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