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The Psychological Aspects of Social Media and How It Can Lead to Cyberbullying and Criminal Activities

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Social media may be a relatively new phenomenon, yet its effects are being felt with the youth of today and the generation that has grown up with the birth of it. In the article “The Impacts of Social Media on Society, Jacob Amedie depicts just that. He did extensive research on how social media is culpable for many problems in today’s society. In his first section, he describes the way platforms such as Facebook and many others conjure false “friendships” and connections that lead to extensive mental health problems. In his second part of the article, he goes on to say that social media can become addicting which takes a user’s time away from their real-life relationships. He finishes off his article by outlining the effects these platforms have can be linked to certain criminal activity. Amedie begins his argument by acknowledging the positive aspects of social media such as being able to reconnect with old friends and being able to “meet” people halfway across the world. Overall though, he asserts that social media “has brought about detrimental side effects to society” as his main takeaway.

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Amedie starts his evidence by analyzing social media and the psychological effects it brings upon its users. He describes something called “Facebook Depression” which happens when people spend a lot of time on social media which “overstimulates the brain” and they start mimicking symptoms of depression. He goes on to say that having to always be engaged, triggers something in the brain and users begin to mentally breakdown. Having a platform where one is able to post about one’s problems and having to talk about them over and over again can cause anxiety, as well. Amedie describes these problems as “minor”, yet because they keep getting talked about, these users tend to fixate on them and cannot move on with their lives. “The study conducted psychologist, Dr. Mark Becker, of Michigan State University, found a 70% increase in self-reported depressive symptoms among the group using social media and a 42% increase in social anxiety.” It is evident enough that social media can deteriorate minds, but users can’t seem to be able to log off. According to Amedie, social media causes stress and anxiety because users only seem to post the “highlight reels” of their lives. Although most people are aware of this, it does not stop them from wanting to put this perfect image of themselves out into the world as well. Users can get so fixated on this idea of portraying themselves as super cool and trendy online that they may even start forgetting who they truly are. “The constant release of the stress hormone cortisol, from heavy social media usage, over time causes damage to your gastrointestinal tract (gut), which opens the door to an immuno-inflammatory response in the body and brain, leading to depression anxiety.” Social media seems to be this addictive, stressful phenomenon, yet users can’t get enough of it. According to Amedie, social media “provides a false sense of intimacy”. This leads to users to believe they are making real connections with people, yet these relationships cannot be as deep as face to face relationships.

In the next part of his evidence, he goes on to say that being anonymous can lead users to do very scary and sometimes illegal things. Catfishing is the act of pretending to be someone you’re not to another person online. He says that to some it may seem like a funny joke, yet many people become invested in these fake “relationships’, and “ the personal implications of such an occurrence are truly profound.” Cyberbullying has also been an issue that has risen from the birth of social media. For today’s youth, this has become a large problem, especially. 20-35% of adolescents admit to having been cyberbullied, being a cyberbully, or both. This goes to show that anonymity can feel powerful and seem as though there will be no repercussions. He reports that cyberbullying can lead to higher rates of suicide and depression. Something needs to be done to raise awareness fast before this problem becomes much bigger.

In the last part of his article Amedie introduces the issue of social media and criminal activity. Terrorism seems to be on the rise through social media platforms. Amedie describes how terrorist groups such as ISIS recruit new members through these outlets. By spreading propaganda through these platforms, these groups have been very succesful in finding new recruits. They prey on isolated and depressed individuals. Terrorist groups reel them in by promising them a sense of belonging and a way to feel powerful. Amedie goes on to say that ISIS has been the most successful at this. One of the most famous cases of this has been about the Boston Marathon bombers. They were reported to have been sharing terrorist propaganda and they were tied to terrorist groups by what they shared. These individuals were just a few of the many who have used social media to convey a message of evil.

Although Amedie had a lot of information, I thought it was conveyed cohesively. He seemed to have really researched this and dug deep. Most of his claims had statistics to back them up which deepened my understanding of his point. His overall argument was that social media is deteriorating individuals psychologically and bringing upon criminal activity. I thoroughly enjoyed how he tied the psychological aspects of social media and how it can lead to cyberbullying and criminal activities.

People want to be seen as these perfect beings with no flaws and they go to such an extent for that, that they end up making themselves anxious and stressed out. This article made me question who are we all trying to impress by seeming so perfect and why?

 

 

Works Cited

  1. Amedie, J. The Impact of Social Media on Society. 15 Sept. 2015, https://scholarcommons.scu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=engl_176.

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