Opinion | We should delete social media

Facebook and social media as a whole have knowingly been harmful to us as individuals and society as a whole.

Students+are+shown+at+The+Airliner+in+Iowa+City%2CIA+on+Monday%2C+Oct.+18%2C+2021.+

Larry Phan

Students are shown at The Airliner in Iowa City,IA on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021.

Peter Anders, Opinions Contributor


On Oct. 6, former Facebook product manager and whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before a bipartisan commerce committee that the controversial social media giant was well aware of the negative effects that came with its platform and its usage, but ignored them for the sake of profit.

It was already suspected that Facebook knew social media had negative effects. But the extent of these revelations should help remind us why social media as a whole is bad for us. We should limit usage of it, if not eliminate it entirely.

Facebook itself as a platform is somewhat well known for being a cesspool of toxicity and negativity. But Instagram seems to fly under the radar, especially when it comes to self-image and the harm it can do to self-perception.

As psychologist John Duffy said in an article on CNN, Instagram forces negative self-perception among young girls. If they do not get as many likes on a post as another girl, sometimes they feel like that means they are lesser than them.

The self-confidence issues that arise from this are well documented and quite numerous. Internal research from Facebook shows that 32 percent of teenage girls said Instagram made their body image worse, and 13 percent of teenagers surveyed in the U.K, and 6 percent of teens in the U.S, connected Instagram to suicidal thoughts, according to the BBC.

If these social media entities were completely unaware of these problems, maybe there would not be as much cause for outrage. As Frances made abundantly clear in her testimony, however, not only did Facebook know this sort of link was a reality but actively used it to their own benefit.

Oftentimes, the company would sell audiences —like young girls — questionable products preying on those feelings of insecurity and lack of self-confidence.

This doesn’t even highlight how social media has poisoned discourse around social topics, as well. One only needs to type a hashtag relating to any form of current events on Twitter and one’s respect for others and society overall will evaporate faster than anyone could possibly imagine.

These platforms claim they are working to fight misinformation that causes this toxicity, but their methods are lazy at best. If Frances is to be believed, the companies know they are not effective enough.

Facebook is afraid to censor or slap a warning label on certain political figures because of the backlash that will entail, even though they know it is their moral obligation to do so.

Social media is horrible. It is not just Facebook and Instagram that are toxic — almost all of social media is in some way damaging to users’ mental health and well-being.

Quitting all social media entirely at once is not a way to fight it either.

Rather, maybe we should each begin to place limits and checks on ourselves to make sure the amount of time we spend on these apps is reasonable. It does not have to be a large amount we cut down usage by either, since it is best done over a long period of time.

Our phones have apps and settings that allow us to track our usage, and in some instances, create blocks entirely once a certain amount of time is spent. Instead of spending, say, four hours a day on Instagram, start spending three hours and cut it down by 30 minutes each month.

Over the course of the last five years, people on both the right, left, and center side of political aisles have all (for different reasons) come to the realization that the harm social media does far outweighs the good.

People says they know it is time to go back to the old methods of socializing, or at least cut down on our digital aspect of it. Hopefully the facts revealed over the last month will be enough to actually incentivize people to do so.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


 

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