This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Devastating Effects of Excessive Online Communication
Ever since the rise of social media platforms that began with AOL and Compuserve, social dynamics have begun shifting away from traditional forms of communication. Rather than rely on face to face conversation or written letters, people chat, post, and DM each other. Now with mobile devices which have harnessed the power of the digital universe into our fingertips, peoples attention are glued to their screens using Facebook, Twitter and staying current with each of the new social media platforms.
Some studies show millennials today cannot even coherently ask someone out on a date. Other studies indicate that 74 percent of millennials prefer conversing digitally. Meanwhile, even the presence of a device affects the depth of interpersonal relationships. All too often, this type of interaction negatively affects people’s lives. Sometimes it is to the point of becoming deadly.
The New Portfolio
Social media has become the norm in our day and age. Everything can be done on social media from selling your old armoire to providing guitar lessons. Even marketing ones own jewelry line is possible with the ease of access for so many around the world. Some use their Instagram (IG) accounts to also post their ideas and memes garnering an impressive following. Traditional forms of marketing have taken a backseat while the use of social media as a marketing tool is becoming more and more prevalent.
Instagram and some of the other photo archiving social media platforms have become tools for models to create an impressive portfolio. Whether one is attempting to be a FashionNova model, a bikini model or even seeking brand deals through body images, people—primarily women— have found social media to be an incredible tool for them to create images in hopes of attracting followers and lucrative sponsorship deals. A simple search will show many people who have garnered hundreds of thousands of followers simply through posting pictures. They will show off a bareback dress, a bathing suit, or even wearing simple jeans and t-shirt all because people latch on. IG has not only become a photo archiving service but it is also a place of social engagement through likes, comments and sharing of posts.
Dopamine is a powerful drug as it is known as the pleasure hormone. It’s also the bonding chemical as well since a woman who gives birth to a child finds herself in a dopamine haze in which she becomes more connected to the child. Dopamine also is released when a guy falls in love with a girl. It takes very little to release that chemical in us. The effects of a “like” on an IG post can also trigger a dopamine release. It feels good when seeing the number of people who liked a photograph rise continually higher. When this mingled with dangerously low views of self-worth, however, it can be dangerous and even lethal. This is especially true for people whose lives revolve around social media and they don’t have any other skills.
Take the the case of IG “model” Jesse Taylor whose Instagram account was shut down; she broke down and wept and posted it to YouTube. The commentaries like Michelle McDaniel and Repzion on her video is quite comedic. Ms. Taylor is disappointed but still alive. However, this is not always the case. Another story is a very sad and tragic one.
Chloe Davidson of Lanchester, England was 19 year old when she committed suicide because she did not get the number of likes she desired. However, not only did she not get the kind of engagement she wanted, but she received copious amounts of negative engagement. People mocked, trolled and requested sexual favors on this young model’s Instagram page. Chloe had a very low view of herself, according to Mazech Media, and this pushed the young model to take her own life.
Many people are shocked at why the young woman would have such a low view of herself and her self-worth. A look at her pictures showed her to be extremely attractive and definitely marketable. Davidson’s mother said that Chloe had a hard time connecting with others socially in school, and she would spend chunks of her day taking selfies and tweaking them for IG engagement.
“We’re becoming a species of smartphone zombies”Victor Tangermann. https://futurism.com/screen-time-smartphone-obsession
Her story and countless others like her beg the question of whether a person can become too dependent on social media. How much is too much? Some studies show that Americans between the ages of 8-12 spend almost 4 hours and 22 minutes on the screen. Teenagers spend almost double that, not including screen time used for homework some sources say. For adults, it’s even more. One source indicates that we check our phones at least 85 times a day while being glued to the screen for 5 hours. This equates to almost a third of waking life.
Turn Off the Screen
Many experts state turning off the screen actually helps the psyche for the better. Chloe might still be alive had she spent less time online and more time connecting with others in person. An important lesson from her tragic story is a person is more than just an online presence. There is an intrinsic value to each person far beyond the amount of likes or comments received. If children understand this value, the possibility of the tragedy that happened to Chloe Davidson will be lessened.
There are many more “Chloes” out there. Social media and businesses which support this epidemic are not helping them. They must be encouraged to find a community! Whether a church, rotary club, book club, a meet up or anything that connects them more to people than to an electronic device. In the end, connecting with real people is essential!