There are two sides to every story. At first glance, social media platforms are a benefit to society. They allow us to connect with people all over the world instantaneously and simultaneously. Social media can keep us informed in real time sometimes giving us a more real and accurate picture of what’s happening in the world. Perhaps, the most important benefit of social media is the ability to reinforce the power of social capital, or most basic and essential form of currency.
Similar to anything else on this planet, there exists a dark side to social media. It is filled with an equal amount of booby traps to match its benefits. Some of social media’s booby traps are so harmful to society they have caused many people to have a negative perception of social media as a whole. Here are 10 of the worst booby traps in social media:
Booby Trap #1 Notifications
- These sinister triggers affect the reward centers in your brain, they are used to notify you when you have likes, comments, status updates, new followers, and the list goes on. They have infiltrated your phone, computer, tablets, and your email creating an addictive habit that causes you to seek out useless information just to remain in use of a particular social media platform. You are basically being drugged and you don’t even know it.
Booby Trap #2 News Feed
- Silly rabbit, traps are for… Curiosity killed the… News feeds send you down a rabbit hole or black hole because of your innate curiosity as a human being. If you are not careful you will find yourself mindlessly scrolling you newsfeed for hours.
Booby Trap #3 The Numbers Games
- Social Media platforms do a great job of quantifying everything. They let you know how many views, followers, likes, streaks, friends, and so on you have accumulated. Unfortunately, this plays on our competitive nature and our yearning for growth. We end up chasing numbers that don’t really mean anything to us. Who can actually have 400 friends or keep a streak with someone for 100 days? How many likes can actually keep you happy?
Booby Trap #4 InAuthenticity
- The cruel truth about social media is that it is faker than it is real. People use fake images, create fake lifestyles, even buy followers all to get your attention. Everyone seems to be doing awesome and living an awesome life. We know this is not true because people are more depressed even with thousands of friends. Are you being genuine when you like a friends post even though you didn’t read it or because the rest of your friends liked it? It is clear peer pressure is still a big issue for everyone including adults.
Booby Trap #5 Kidtastrophy
- One of the biggest issues with social media is it isn’t kid proof. Kids have unlimited access to inappropriate content. There is a reason why people put gates in front of stairs when they have toddlers, it isn’t because they don’t want their child to learn how to walk up the stairs, it is for the child’s safety until they can competently perform the task. Kids brains aren’t fully developed until they are in their 20’s, so why do will put the world in their hands before they are 18. Ask yourself would you give a child 16 and under the keys to a Ferrari or your give the unrestricted access to your debit card. Probably not! Then why would you hand them a phone or tablet with unrestricted access to social media?
Booby Trap #6 Fragmentization
- It sounds great that social media platforms have these complex algorithms with capabilities to show you only content that you favor. Like anything else, too much of anything is bad for you. These algorithms create fragmentization because users are unable to see opposing views. This sounds like taking a step back in our evolution to the printing press, where you have a personalized printing press. And if everyone is only exposed to their own beliefs we become a sick society… full of ink poison.
Booby Trap #7 Indifference
- What happens when you continue to see sensationalized content all the time, you become desensitized. You become less empathetic and it becomes harder to attract your attention. This becomes a real problem when you are ignorant of the issues in your community because you don’t care anymore. The world can’t afford for you to be complacent, history has shown us that indifference is often the beginning of genocide.
Booby Trap #8 Business
- Where there is attention, there is money. Fortunately, social media platforms are still relatively young, which means businesses haven’t completely learned how to monetize them yet. Rest assured they are trying to figure it out. However, marketers have found ways to steal your information and use it against you. Yes, I said steal. Anytime some use a gimmick to get your information so that they can track your habits and sell to you, I call it stealing. There a plenty of very intelligent marketers who have elaborate schemes and processes to capture your attention, in fact, social media platforms are often one big analytical marketing scheme. Even if you are a business owner, if you are not careful, you will forget that you are trying to attract customers and could end up trying to attract followers and likes.
Booby Trap #9 Vice City
- Social media platforms can be a little like the addictive game Grand Theft Auto. Because it gives you access to everything that is bad for you, you can find yourself becoming your worst version, doing these you wouldn’t normally do just because you believe you have anonymity. We all have a dark side, pray you don’t go down that road, may the force be with you.
Booby Trap #10 On Record
- If you were an ornery child, adolescent, teenager, or young adult (all of us) before the arrival of social media, consider yourself lucky. It uses to be that everything you did under the age 18 could be expunged from your record (except major crimes). That is no longer the case, because of social media, you can assume any text, picture, video, or comment inputted on a digital device is recorded forever. At any time your historical content can resurface damaging your image, status, relationships, and job opportunities. We all have some skeletons lets hope you didn’t record yours.