1984 in Effect

Raymond Mancini  |  December 11, 2013  |  6 min read  ・  in op-ed


Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, and countless other social networking websites have shaped the way people live nowadays. These sites make it much easier for people to connect with others and reconnect with college roommates or childhood friends. However, there is a greater downside to these networks of which people are unaware–many millennials (those born after 1980) are so possessed by these sources that the thought of negative effects does not pass through their minds. Social networking is such a terrible development on which society depends because it brings people out of touch with reality, deteriorates the way people act with one another, and distracts young people from the great qualities of life.

Social media brainwashes people into thinking that they are celebrities, instead of understanding the reality of where they really stand in life. Most teenagers have social networking accounts on websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Vine, and Tumblr. They follow celebrities or post “selfies” to these sites so that they can receive comments like: “you are beautiful” or “hot.” The teenagers of the younger generation nowadays are so interested in their online image that they constantly update their news feed and post pictures to increase the number of friends they have. “Living life doesn’t seem be enough; they have to record and share it, too.” Teenagers also become too busy living other people’s lives than their own when they become obsessed with social networking. They start following celebrities who tweet where they are eating or which movies they like. “According to TwitterCounter, Lady Gaga gains an average of almost 40,000 followers per day.” Teenagers think so much of celebrities lives that they do not think about living their own. Social networking has so taken over the thought of millennials that they think more about what picture will make them look more like a celebrity than at what they want to become successful in life. Teenagers’ only goal as they grow up is to get the most “likes” on the photos they post on Instagram or Facebook. They feel the more “likes” they amass, the more popular they are. This superstitious idea of popularity is the only drive teenagers have today. “‘If you don’t get 100 ‘likes,’ you make other people share it so you get 100,’ said of the competition surrounding Facebook profile pictures.” This proves that the teenage generation nowadays is striving so much to boost their social image status to become “popular” that they ask their “friends” to share their pictures with the intent that more people will “like” it. 

Social networking not only brings people out of touch with reality, but it also destroys the emotional communication that generations once had. Instead of walking over to your friends’ houses and physically interacting with them, teenagers will often send an instant message through Facebook to their friend followed by an emotionless emoticon. This type of communication is a major factor that will ultimately destroy society. It is a resemblance of emotionless interactions where instead of tears and laughs and hugs and kisses, there are emoticons that potentially define what a person is feeling. “Studies show that only 7% of communication is based on the written or verbal word[; a] whopping 93% is based on nonverbal body language.” This is a terrible fact to endure because it shows how pathetic millennials are in authentic communication. This study also proves that communication will eventually evolve to the point where human beings will not be human beings–they will be dispassionate robots. Potentially, no form of communication will exist, and everyone will be socially awkward. “Indeed, it’s only when we can hear a tone of voice or look into someone’s eyes that we’re able to know when “I’m fine” doesn’t mean they’re fine at all…or when “I’m in” doesn’t mean they’re bought in at all.” This further shows that instant messaging over Facebook or commenting on photos does not show what people really feel. There is no emotion in text, but there is body language in real interaction.

Social networking is not only deteriorating interactions, but it is also deteriorating relationships. Instead of confronting a girl to ask her to go out to the movies Friday night, teenagers text them asking if they want to “hook up.” “Plus, ‘Receiving a text from a person you like can be a glorious thing,’ Hess writes. The girl, Hess, that said this proves that a text is more sexually engaging than an emotional confrontation. This shows that the emotional relationship, where men confronted girls and asked them to go out to movies or a football game, is being destroyed by emotionless responses on social networking sites. Also, social networking has become so emotionless and robotic that it makes things much easier to say to people that most could not in a real life situation. The fact that this is true sabotages the emotion and affection people once had for each other.

Besides corrupting authentic interactions, social networking distracts teenagers from the free qualities of life that were once adored in the past generations–the fact that one could take a chance in life to do whatever one feels passionate for. Whenever someone is talking to another, a Facebook notification may make an iPhone buzz. This buzz creates distraction because it makes that person think about how many likes they might have received in ten minutes, or what picture their friend has just posted on Instagram. Whatever the case, the social network reaction interrupts conversation. “Although it might feel like it, keeping the technological soundbite barrage at bay long enough for people to have intelligent conversations about the things that really matter doesn’t require the earth to stop rotating on its axis.” These types of interruption not only interrupt intelligent conversations, but they also interrupt life. Instead of thinking about a passion that one may have or what one might want to achieve in life, teenagers let social networking get in the way–it is more important to follow what Beyonce had for lunch than to take advantage of the freedom life awards to achieve one’s personal goals.

The fact that social networking has possessed so many young people brings up several questions: What will the future of the world be? How might this affect the animate conversation that is dwindling today? Life has many great features that people tend to ignore due to their constant updates of news feeds and selfies. These distract people from the greatness that life was once admired for. It is awful to see a society that was once full of life be destroyed by this inanimate, emotionless websites that people call “social networks.” To be social is not to send texts but to interact in person. To be social is to confront someone and say “I like you.” This is certainly not happening today. People cannot say half the things they say in texts in person. This creates a big dilemma regarding the future of society. Social networking cannot define the way one interacts because if that were to happen, people may as well put televisions in place of their heads and post an emoticon for happy and sad when they “feel” that they are “happy” and “sad.” Let the truth be told: if social networks grow enough to occupy everyone’s time, a dysfunctional society will occur, one that involves people who are free from emotion and have no individual goals in life but to follow the goals of celebrities.