August 4, 2018
Social Media: A Monster?
You have it with you every day. You probably don’t leave the house without it. However, social media can be recognized as one of the most frightening monsters of them all and today’s society is without a doubt, overly attached. The dictionary describes social media as, “websites and other online means of communication that are used by large groups of people to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content.”(dictionary.com). There was a rapid expansion of social media which lead to dramatic alteration in the world with widespread effects such as mental health issues, cyberbullying, and unrealistic expectations. This issue will not stop. It is like an insidious snake, invisibly squirming its way through people’s minds; warping them as it passes. The most popular social media include Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram. Social media can change your perception of the world and yourself, but not typically for the better. If you can not imagine your life without social media, that’s a sign that you’ve fallen a victim to the evil power of social networking. Social media is a monster, the worst part is no one sees it coming.
One of the most famous monsters ever created was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The novel Frankenstein tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a grotesque creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. Brian Rosenberg, president of Macalester College states, “Victor Frankenstein learns to harness some of the most mysterious forces in the universe — he is, as the novel’s subtitle suggests, the Modern Prometheus — but he never ponders or learns to control the dangerous implications of his own creativity, and the result is disastrous for him and for those about whom he most cares.”(Rosenberg). This quote explains that throughout history, humans tend to jump at the opportunity to receive credit for brilliant, powerful creations, but are often so caught up in the new revelation that they do not see how enormously destructive their creation can be. Just as we discussed in class, Frankenstein is so astonished by what he can do that he never pauses to ask what he should do. Similarly to Frankenstein, our society is so captivated by the new capabilities we have at our fingertips that our excitement at what we can do has gotten dangerously far ahead of what we should do. Rosenberg suggests, “Social media, I believe, are in danger of becoming the Frankenstein’s monster of our historical moment. Brilliant people have created powerful tools that allow us to do things unimagined even a decade ago, yet it is fair to ask whether those tools have done more harm than good and whether they are being wielded with a sense of responsibility.”(Rosenberg). Our society is being dramatically shaped by the new forms of social media and the present conditions the effects of this monstrosity has diminished.
Today around seven-in-ten Americans use social media to connect with one another. Stats show, “When Pew Research Center began tracking social media adoption in 2005, just 5% of American adults used at least one of these platforms. By 2011 that share had risen to half of all Americans, and today 69% of the public uses some type of social media” (Pew Research Center). Researchers have found that using social media obsessively causes anxiety and depression. It is more than just the pressure of sharing things with others, it is also about how you may be comparing your life with others you see on Facebook. Many people see that someone on Facebook who has a great job, excellent husband, and beautiful home and they feel happy for them. But, others can feel jealous, depressed, or may even feel suicidal about their own life if it is not as “perfect” as those they see on Facebook. Jeffrey Cohen, author of Monster Culture explains, “Monster theory must therefore concern itself with strings of cultural moments, connected by a logic that always threatens to shift; invigorated by change and escape, by the impossibility of achieving what Susan Stewart calls the desired “fall or death, the stopping” of its gigantic subject, monstrous interpretation is as much process as epiphany, a work that must content itself with fragments.”(Cohen, page 6). This quote helps us to understand that the more technology we acquire, the more stressed out we become. Technology and social media have grown and expanded with our culture over the years becoming a necessity in every day life. It is almost impossible to not become a victim of the evil power of social media because society enforces so much pressure on people to conform and adapt with common cultural movements.
Liu yi Lin and a handful of other doctors, who wrote a research article about depression and anxiety, conducted a survey on a sample of 1,787 young adults aged nineteen to thirty-two about social media use and depression. There results concluded, “those who use increased amounts of social media subsequently develop increased depression. Studies have linked social media use with declines in subjective mood, sense of well-being, and life satisfaction. For example, passive consumption of social media content as opposed to active communication has been associated with decrease in bonding and bridging social capital and increase in loneliness. Consequently, these envious feelings may lead to a sense of self-inferiority and depression over time.”(Liu Lin page 328). One of the most common terrors about monsters is the fear they instill in people based on the fact that they can hurt us. Clearly the prevalent, current day monster known as social media harms millions of individuals world wide by allowing an abundance of depression and anxiety in the human population as one of its disastrous effects.
Another effect of the monstrous social media is the epidemic known as cyberbullying. Kellie Camelford, author of The Cyberbullying Virus states, “Cyberbullying is a form of bullying in which a person intentionally and repeatedly harms or harasses another person through an electronic format which may include sending harmful text messages, emails, or voicemails, spreading rumors on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter posting or disturbing unflattering or embarrassing photos, and creating fake profiles bully the victim while remain anonymous.”(The Cyberbullying Virus, page 459). Cyberbullying is different from traditional physical bullying in that thanks to social media, is quickly distributed and often seen by much larger groups of people. Traditional bullying is face-to-face, limited to a selected group whereas cyberbullying is behind screens, shared with a wide audience within seconds. Research from The Cyberbullying Virus explains, “ 24% of students age 12-18 years old, reported being cyberbullied during their lifetimes. Patchin found that 15% of students admitted to cyberbullying with spreading rumors as the most commonly reported mode of cyberbullying. Patchin and Hinduja found that 88% of students reported being a bystander and witnessing cruelty on social networking sites. Tracking down and punishing perpetrators of cyberbullying is difficult because the “anonymity” of the internet, which often, in turn, encourages the cyberbullying tactics to intensify.”(The Cyberbullying Virus, page 459). Therefore, this quote states that not only is social media a monster, instilling fear and pain in others, but is also creating humans into monsters by taking away there humanity.
In Cohens Monster Theory, he states in his fifth thesis, “The monster of prohibition exists to demarcate the bonds that hold together that system of relations we call culture, to call horrid attention to the borders that cannot be crossed… this monster delimits the social space through which cultural bodies may move, and in classical times validated a tight, hierarchical system of naturalized leadership and control where every man had a functional place… We have seen that the monster arises at the gap where difference is perceived as dividing a recording voice from its captured subject.;.. The monster’s destructiveness is really a deconstructiveness: it threatens to reveal that difference originates in process, rather than in fact.”(Cohen, page 14). Sadly Cohen’s thesis remarkably coincides with the process cyberbullying enforces in social media interactions between kids by a creation of a social hierarchy that will destroy you if you attempt to change your position. These effects of social media can be detrimental on the teenage population, leading to increased school absences, decreased levels of self-esteem, and eventually suicide.
More over, social media also causes an overwhelming feeling of unrealistic expectations and a disorder known as Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). Kathryn Gregory, journalist of Gazelle magazine explains, “That need for constant communication may stem from something being dubbed the “fear of missing out,” a sense that people think there is something better going on than the activity they are participating in at the moment.”(Gregory). That need turns into a compulsion to be constantly connected. FOMO is basically a form of anxiety that you get when you’re scared of missing out on a positive experience or emotions that someone else is getting. This fear is constantly fueled by social media engagement. The more you use social networks, the more likely you are to see that someone is having more fun than you are right now and that’s exactly what causes FOMO. FOMO also plays largely into having unrealistic expectations. For example, it is common to see posts about the “perfect” relationship and “perfect” boyfriend on Twitter and Facebook. Accompanying these posts are comments from people telling you that you deserve a boy who will always send you a “good morning text”, who brings you flowers or other gifts, and has constant communication. These ideal relationships that people form on social media are not real. There is no such thing as a perfect relationship, or a perfect boyfriend and the social media checklist is not the standard you should be setting. Cohen explains, “The monster is difference made flesh, come to dwell among us… Any kind of alterity can be inscribed across the monstrous body, but for the most part monstrous difference tends to be cultural, political, racial, economic, sexual.”(Cohen, page 7). In modern day, Cohens explanation can compare to the monstrous social media because the unrealistic expectations stem from the culture in our society and the all too common, fear. Fear is a legitimate sense that people have. There is always something better that we could be doing instead of what we are doing. Social media is just setting us up for constant disappointment.
Over careful consideration and extensive research, social media is a monster. The monstrous effects that impact society include mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, cyberbullying, and unrealistic expectations. The social media monster will continue to invade our daily lives if more attention is not drawn to this realization. Otherwise, we are giving birth, in the famous words of Mary Shelley, to a “hideous progeny”.
Camelford, Kellie Giorgio and Christine Ebrahim. “The Cyberbullying Virus: A Psychoeducational Intervention to Define and Discuss Cyberbullying among High School Females.” Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, vol. 11, no. 3-4, Jul-Dec2016, pp. 458-468. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/15401383.2016.1183545
This is a scholarly article about the cyberbullying virus that consumes the average teenager in high school. The article states because of the high volume of adolescent Internet usage, researchers have studied how adolescents communicate online in both positive and negative ways. I will use this article to explain how a negative effect of social media is cyberbullying. This is a credible source because it was written by educated people who wrote a Journal of Creativity in Mental Health.
Lin, Liu yi, et al. “Association between Social Media Use and Depression among U.S. Young Adults.” Depression & Anxiety (1091-4269), vol. 33, no. 4, Apr. 2016, pp. 323-331. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1002/da.22466.
This is a scholarly article about the correlation between social media and depression. This study demonstrates a strong and significant association between social media use and depression in a nationally representative sample of United States young adults. I will use this source in my essay to show how a negative effect of social media is depression and anxiety. This is a credible source because it was written by educated doctors on the topic and shows multiple charts and tables from the experiments and studies taken.
Gregory, Kathryn. “Social Media Can Create ‘Fear of Missing Out’.” Charleston Gazette, the (WV), 05 Feb. 2012. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=n5h&AN=2W63684649823&site=ehost-live.
This article is about a negative effect of social media known as fear of missing out. This article explains what ‘fear of missing out’ is and gives quotes from people who have experienced it. I will use this article to correlate the negative effect social media has on ones mental health and daily life. This is a credible source because all of the quotes are cited and it was found on the Crafton Hills database under scholarly articles.
“Social Media Fact Sheet.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, Pew Research Center, 5 Feb. 2018, http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/social-media/.
This is an article about social media statistics in the general population that explores the patterns and trends shaping the social media landscape over the past decade. It consists of multiple charts and graphs that show correlating evidence of the human population and expanding rate of social media use. I will use this article in my essay by using some of the statistics they gathered through extensive research and surveys. This is a credible source because a reliable Research Center was responsible for conducting the surveys.
Cohen, J. (n.d.). Monster Culture (Seven Theses). [online] englishwithtuttle.com.
This is an article about critically analyzing monsters and the different cultures they come from. It provides sufficient background information that can connect monsters to both the past, present, and future. I will use this article to connect my monster to critical realizations in the world. This is a credible source because it is a scholarly journal and has multiple scientists cited.
Rosenberg, Brian. “The Frankenstein’s Monster of Social Media.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 29 May 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-rosenberg/millennials-social-media_b_2978652.html.
This article is comparing Frankenstein to Social media saying how social media is a monster. It explains that social media is in danger of becoming the Frankenstein’s monster of our historical moment. I will use this in my essay to exaggerate how social media can successfully be compared to being a monster. This is a credible source because the President from Macalester College, Brian Rosenberg, wrote the article and is very knowledgeable on the subject.