Five ways we’re (mis)using social media

STATISTICS don’t lie. According to Global Web Index, one of the most reliable sources of social media statistics, more than 2.789 billion people—37 percent of the global population—are now active social media users. This does not even include the mobile social users (I see you, Clash of Clan players). Of this, we in the Philippines rank in the top five users of the four major social media platforms: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Google. (It didn’t say how we ranked among Instagram users, but I expect it to be just as high.) 

Not surprisingly, the highest demographic of users are those from the 16 to 24 age range and the 25 to 34, with the younger age range taking almost 40 percent of total usage of Instagram and Tumblr. Does your head hurt yet? Mine already does.

The main takeaway here is the majority of users are digital natives for majority of their lives or, literally, from the day they were born. Which can lead to, in my humble opinion, misuse and abuse of social media. Here are five common ways people do so. 

Zero Filters

Had a good day? A bad day? Ate breakfast? Post. Now. Unconsciously, in our quest for “likes” and “hearts,” we seem to think more is better. The more posts, the more likes, right? It depends. There is a point of oversaturation, where people will ignore what you post due to the sheer volume. And sometimes when too much information is revealed, this is something predators out there who are looking for a quick buck at people’s expense look to take advantage of. 

When someone cryptically posts about “feeling disappointed at people, ugh,” it’s a clear sign for attention-grabbing, nothing else.

One-upping Everyone

Also known as people trying to be more #blessed than the next guy. Our parents didn’t have this problem; they engaged in one-upping when the gang got together for reunions every now and then. But social media allows people to post real-time about their accomplishments, leading us to wonder what we’re doing with our lives. 

Balance, people. Post the highs, but include the lows. Let’s not sanitize our lives so much that we lose our authenticity. No matter how much you one-up, there will always be someone above you.  

Too much 9gag

I can only imagine how much time is spent looking at kitten videos or, heaven forbid, NSFW posts on 9gag and similar sites. Before we know it, five minutes turns to 50.  This also goes for “intelligent” sites such as the BBC, CNN, and knowledge-bomb pages out there.

 I understand that there are nuggets of wisdom. But knowledge needs to be practically applied; only then will we get to learn something. And as Confucius said, “He who learns but does not think is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.” You certainly won’t get to learn just by swiping on your screen all day.

No fact-checking

So we see a video that tugs at our heartstrings and can’t help but share it. Then a friend messages to tell us the video was fake. That’s happened to me more times than I can count, hence my current aversion to sharing anything without rechecking the facts at least 10 times. 

In the age of the Internet, we would be remiss to check the content of whatever we disseminate. As our horizons broaden, let’s also take that time to broaden our minds and consider the other side of the argument. We will save a lot of friendships by doing so.
 
Our demographics sometimes need boundaries to be set, like how a good coach lays down the law for his team. Similar to how we don’t eat our friend out of a house and home when we crash their place, a few unwritten rules for social media need to be set so that not every post becomes a flame war that threatens to tear the very fabric of the cosmos.

Sorry, wild imagination.