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Social Media - A Weapon of Self Destruction

(71 Posts)
Cunco Thu 10-Jun-21 08:25:03

Social Media might be termed unsocial media. It is a relatively new phenomenon and we need to understand more about what it does to human beings, including ourselves. From early years to old age, the alias and lack of physical contact can lead to views being expressed in ways that give rise to intended or unintended offence. It can create a permanent record. It can be a dangerous medium. Too often, it becomes a medium to debase rather than debate. Like wine, it can be sipped and enjoyed or taken in greater and greater quantity to relax, release an alter ego or become addicted. Of course, regulation and monitoring may help but, in its absence, it comes down to self control and, if necessary, taking a break.

What do you think?

Elegran Thu 10-Jun-21 09:04:08

It is like any other means of communication - a valuable means of exchanging information, and/or open to all kinds of abuses, intentional and accidental. The only difference is that it is instant, it reaches large numbers of people simultaneously, and what is published on it cannot be retrieved and destroyed. Plus, some people who would never have bothered to phone someone to insult them, or to sit down to write an abusive letter, can now put two fingers up at the world in a few seconds by typing some rubbish and presing a button.

Most of all, users need common sense and common decency. There seem to be less of those qualities around than you'd expect. However, that is due to people, not to the medium they use to communicate.

Social media is also a lifeline to the isolated and lonely, a meeting point with others who share the same problems, a source of incidental information on all kinds of subjects, from recipes to scientific theses, and a window on how other people live and what they think about things.

Cunco Thu 10-Jun-21 09:55:55

Elegran: I think you make a very good case for why social media is not like any other means of communication. A letter, a phone call, a personal text or an email, are all one-to-one or to a group of connected recipients. Social media is not.

I agree that misuse is down to users not the medium itself but that does not take us very far. You could say that bad driving is down to the driver not the car but if the keys of a Mercedes are handed to a ten-year-old child, is the driver responsible for any mayhem that may ensue?

My point is that this new phenomenon has a dark side which needs better understanding, not simply brushing aside.

Elegran Thu 10-Jun-21 10:57:50

I think better minds than ours, with more input into the industry, have thought about this and are still struggling to g
find an answer. The genie is out of the bottle, Pandora's Box has been opened, and universal instant communication for all has been let loose on the world, for good or bad. You can't squeeze that genie back into the bottle, or collect all the woes in creation and stuff them back into Pandora's Box.
A lot of the trash on social media is posted by people who are about 10 years old, either in reality or in their developmental maturity. Winding up adults is one of the pleasures of childhood, and always has been, and how it is done depends on what is available at the time. Tying two doorknobs together with string and then ringing both doorbells used to be one ploy, another was collecting dog poo in a paper bag, puting it on a doorstep and setting fire to the bag, then ringing the doorbell and watching from a safe distance while the houseowner discovered the fire and tried to put it out by stamping on it. The internet has just expanded the possibilities.

What would you suggest to try to keep the equivalent of ten-year-old Mercedes drivers from posting on the Internet, then? The equivalent of a driving test, leading to a licence to post? How would any restriction be implemented. A law is only good if it can be enforced. A parental veto? If parental vetos worked, no-one would ever start to smoke or experiment with sex.

Cunco Thu 10-Jun-21 11:50:36

How do you deal with a very young person who circulates inappropriate internet material among school friends, not fully understanding the material and the reaction circulation might create? Maybe internet parental controls need to be tightened but sensitivity rather than censure is surely the best option. Recognition of the need to understand and educate about social media, not simply throw up hands and say 'it was ever thus'. People may be the same but the means of mass communication is not..

I recently visited a website where you can ask 'who called me?' It is used by people like myself to see if an unknown number has been previously reported as a scam. I found the forum on an 'NHS' number had been invaded by a group of people intent on abusing all and sundry, particularly 'grey tops'. It was half-term and I suspect that this might have been a small group of class-mates having fun at the expense of concerned, sometimes distressed, genuine users of the site. If so, they can only be reached via education.

What can be done, other than understanding and education? We can report abuse and, if no action is taken, stop using the website. I do find it ironic that radio programmes dealing with internet issues like racial tweets ask listeners to get in touch via Twitter. Every mention is advertising the name! The way to get internet giants to act is to stop using them. If usage drops, growth projections are reduced and share prices fall. That tends to get the attention of management.

Sara1954 Thu 10-Jun-21 13:21:12

Recently some of the girls in one of my granddaughters class have been accused of sending unkind messages to another girl.
The girls involved, including my granddaughter vehemently deny it, but as all these messages were allegedly sent by Snapchat there is no evidence one way or the other.
The headmistress has give them a serious talk about misuse of the internet, but I imagine it will have been in one ear and out of the other!
I hate it, but as Elegran has already said, the genie is out of the bottle, and there will be no putting him back.

Skydancer Thu 10-Jun-21 13:28:07

Recently in our area a young boy hung himself due to online bullying. As adults we are mature enough to know that he could just have ignored it but these young people have grown up with the internet and it's what they know. I think it is spoiling their lives.

Sara1954 Thu 10-Jun-21 13:47:16

That is so sad, but I can easily see how it happened, I’m surprised really that it doesn’t happen more often.

Chewbacca Thu 10-Jun-21 13:51:10

Very similar incident occurred recently in my area too Skydancer; 14 year old girl hung herself after receiving bullying messages via social media. I wonder how those who were involved in it feel now?

Galaxy Thu 10-Jun-21 14:10:42

Are you using a social media forum to advise people not to use social media.

lemongrove Thu 10-Jun-21 14:12:22

Very good interesting comments from you Cunco and I agree that a lot of the social aspect is unsocial! What to do about it is another matter and I do worry about children, and young people using it. Mature adults can take care of themselves but young lives can be blighted.I think that education on using it ( someone going into schools to give talks) could be one way, reminding then that anything put out on SM is there, potentially for anyone to get hold of and forever.Then there is responsibility by the site owners to patrol and see what is being said.At the moment they are getting a much too easy ride on this.

lemongrove Thu 10-Jun-21 14:13:18


Are you using a social media forum to advise people not to use social media.

To use it with great care, more like.

Galaxy Thu 10-Jun-21 14:14:32

I dont want those who own social media controlling what people say. It's incredibly difficult because giving people that kind of power is a very very bad idea.

Kate1949 Thu 10-Jun-21 14:21:17

Facebook has caused a lot of problems in our family. I'm not on it or any other apart from GN.

Elegran Thu 10-Jun-21 14:49:04

I wonder whether it was the same when the telephone first became a common object in private houses? Was there a Great Divide between those who used it joyfully to contact friends and ring experts for advice, and those who predicted the end of civilisation when any Tom Dick or Harry could ring you at any time and say anything to you without you being able to punch him smartly on the nose. Such cheek uoght not to be permitted!
When their daughters could speak at any hour of the day or night about subjects not fit for respectable tea-tables, to men who had not been vetted as suitable escorts. That must have caused a decline in morality.
When a potential burglar could check whether anyone was at home by with an unanswered telephone call, causing an increase in crime.

lemongrove Thu 10-Jun-21 15:11:29

I don’t know Elegran but the telephone certainly was a status symbol and much envied.
All ‘newfangled’ things have their detractors, but we can all clearly see the dangers that come from SM platforms on the Internet.It’s impossible ( or a losing battle) to ‘police’ them and young people seem to have no clue that the words or pic they put ‘out there’ can be shared by the world forever more.

Chewbacca Thu 10-Jun-21 15:22:31

Are you using a social media forum to advise people not to use social media.

Erm.... I don't think that's what is being said*Galaxy*. I understood that the OP was discussing the benefits and drawbacks of social media, not advising anyone to do anything. hmm

Galaxy Thu 10-Jun-21 15:41:14

The way to get internet giants to act is to stop using them is a quote from OP. I just thought it was a bit ironic.

Cunco Fri 11-Jun-21 22:14:48

Recently, many sports organisations had a weekend off from using social media as a protest against unchecked racial abuse. I don't suppose it was more than a gesture. It may be ironic to use social media to suggest not using social media but why not? Nobody says it is not an effective medium of communication, just that the media giants should do more to root out abusers and protect the vulnerable.

Apart from changing the world, I do think having a break from posting can help us individually. I have certainly walked away when I have felt an argument has become personal. As Gamble Aware says, when the fun stops, stop!. It's good advice.

I think internet poses huge risks. It remains to be seen what impact it will have. For example, will raw sex images being passed around playgrounds have no more impact than a copy of Health & Efficiency in the days of yore? I suspect not. Wolf whistles were largely outlawed for treating women as sex objects but now images of people as sex objects are freely available. Maybe, as some suggest, nothing can be done but, if so, I think there will be more negative consequences.

growstuff Fri 11-Jun-21 22:46:48

I think it's more complicated than the telephone. It's not just children who troll and are affected either. Elegran mentioned those who are immature developmentally - there are plenty of those. There are also lonely people, who act out fantasies and a "darker side" on social media. Internet influencing is big business and very powerful. Combined with a desire for democracy, it can be very dangerous because it's not that difficult to influence a critical number.

Social media is here to stay and, unless it's banned as it is in some authoritarian countries, we all need to find ways to recognise its influence and control it.

growstuff Fri 11-Jun-21 22:48:54

I haven't forgotten that woman who committed suicide after being "outed" for trolling Kate McCann. On the surface, she was a perfectly normal, middle-aged woman, but there was something deeply troubling behind the facade, which she acted out on social media. I suspect there are more people like her.

Purpledreamer Sun 13-Jun-21 10:43:07

Gransnet is Social Media as well, but fortunately we all seem to be pretty nice people on here. If there were only 'nice' people on Social Media generally it would all work fine but sadly there are a lot of unpleasant people in this world.
I agree that Social Media can be destructive, but it is also a life-saver for some, and was particularly so in lockdown. It's so much less invasive than a phone call, and so much easier than a letter when writing is difficult. As a disabled person who cannot get out much, it's my link to the outside world.

Hellsbelles Sun 13-Jun-21 10:46:21

My daughter ( 39 ) has a sister in law around the same age, has 2 kids aged around 8 /11 ish.
She puts pics of herself on Facebook heavily Photoshop to almost look like a teenage doll and waits for her friends to send lots of likes and comments.
Sadly when she is photographed at family events , unedited ( and looking perfectly normal ) she screeches at her mother to take the photo off . I find that really sad , that fully grown women feel the need to portray themselves to almost look non human , Yet don't like a family celebration showing normal people , doing normal things showing the real her .

MaggsMcG Sun 13-Jun-21 10:48:12

They really should be more control and checks on the age of people using some of these social media sites. Also bullying has been going on for many years in fact, many centuries. You will never stop that. Its just a lot easier. I agree SnapChat needs some serious thought as not having a record can be too easy a way for bullies to target. Its not always just children though. However I'd be a bit lost lately if I didn't have one of the social media sites. I'm only too glad that FB is not so popular with the younger people now.

Alegrias1 Sun 13-Jun-21 10:57:42

Gransnet is Social Media as well, but fortunately we all seem to be pretty nice people on here.

You're clearly not looking at some of the more "interesting" threads Purpledreamer. wink Society is full of people who like to bully and poke fun. GN has its fair share, just like anywhere else. The town square used to be full of them in the days before we had any other way of communicating.

I use Facebook a lot and have never seen any bullying or inappropriate behaviour, because I can limit what I see and who sees what I post. I agree that SM is a minefield though, for younger people especially.