Social media contributes to antisocial, apathetic society


In Our View, the editorial board says people on their phones miss everything going on around them.

Each week the editorial board reflects on a current issue in Our View. The position taken does not reflect the opinions of everyone on the Hilltop Views staff. This week’s editorial board is composed of Viewpoints Editors Sully Lockett and Victoria Cavazos and News Editor Neta Bomani.

Your phone isn’t a shield to wield when you want to dodge minor social encounters with people.

Miraculously needing to check your feeds during a passing period when you see a person you kind of know but not well enough to say hello to is old. Stop. We see you, and you’re not slick.

Has your Instagram feed really changed between now and the last time you checked, which – TBH – was probably anywhere from five to 15 minutes ago?

Sit down on that bench there. Yes, the one outside. It’s 75 degrees and it’s almost December. Enjoy the breeze or contemplate the potential consequences of climate change.

Either option could be better for your mental health and overall intelligence, instead of obsessively refreshing your feeds to check if Kim Kardashian is off her social media hiatus.

Constant use of social media has serious effects on our well-being. Facebook use can lead to symptoms of envy, anxiety and depression, according to a study by the University of Missouri. A 2016 study by the Pew Research Center showed that Facebook is by far the biggest social media site with 67 percent of American adults using it.

But do we truly understand how social media affects us? What is it about the contrast between the virtual and real world that causes so much general anxiety?

Post-election, many people struggle to distinguish between fact and fiction in the slew of fake news stories and content overload. Not only are we detached from our environment, peers and selves, but now, our objective reality and sense of truth.

It’s ironic how much importance we place on platforms like Facebook when some of their revered leaders and social media founders (sending acrimonious reactionary gifs to your inbox, Mark Zuckerberg) fail to recognize the significance of role they play in the day-to-day lives of people around the world.

This is exemplified by Zuckerberg’s denial of the notion that fake news on Facebook influenced the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, he wrote on Facebook Nov. 12.

“Voters make decisions based on their lived experience,” he said at the Techonomy conference Nov. 10. “There is a profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason someone could have voted the way they did is because they saw fake news.”

If it looks like a media company and acts like a media company, it’s probably going to be a media company, especially with its extensive efforts to maximize advertising revenues (like media companies do) in recognition of its influence over advertising sales.

Which poses the question: how can Facebook recognize the effect placing advertisements on the site will have on its users, but not how promoting fake news on the site fair for its constituents?

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are becoming increasingly more influential and powerful than any news source or publication. And when you compare and contrast the two, only one seems to care to understand the effect it has on its users.

But just as powerful, if not more so, are the users that make these social media platforms what they are with user generated content.

Social media users are more than capable of calling out the Zuckerbergs of the virtual world on their lies. Even if that means logging off.