At the onset of the Internet age, we were led to believe that the more information you have, the better off you are. No data is bad data and all data is useful. But then came social media.
Social media was supposed to be a great equalizing tool. It was a way to share your opinions with friends and strangers. More importantly, it was a way for people to come together to celebrate their achievements or protest their disappointments. It gave a voice to everyone.
But social media has an infamous dark side and the more people share, the more serious this side becomes. As it turns out, living your life online has serious consequences for your self-esteem, your relationships, and your career prospects.
Here are five ways that social media can destroy you.
People who posted three million updates a day used to be funny.
But oversharing does not look the same as it used to because we’re not talking about gratuitous pictures of brunch anymore. Oversharing has people fighting about highly personal matters in the public sphere. They share their personal identification details online. All that is just what they share publicly, never mind private messages.
Oversharing will get you into huge trouble. It’s like airing your dirty laundry to your friends, your family, your co-workers, and the guy you met at the Shell station. Oh and then there’s all your friends’ friends, family co-workers and the weird people they meet buying a Snickers.
2. Sharing the Wrong Things
Social media was fine and good when you accessed it from your computer.
Back in the day, posting on social media looked like this: think of something funny. Make a mental note to put it on Facebook later. Log on to Facebook. Reconsider whether you’re as funny as you think you are. Post status/log off. Repeat.
Now, even your dog can Tweet with his Apple watch while you’re sitting in traffic. You’re losing three steps out of that process. Today, it looks more like: think of something funny. Post status. Repeat.
What you’re missing is that valuable time between making a joke and posting it online. That time is important because it gives you the space to figure out whether you’re hilarious or just kind of a jerk. Having that time prevents you from making a joke about the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing. Ultimately it stops you from being ridiculed and threatened by people you’ve never met.
3. Facebook Addiction
Facebook addiction was another hilarious joke until it became a serious problem. Now, even people who hate Facebook have a small subconscious need to get validation with likes.
Facebook addiction is real and it is dangerous. Not only does it prevent you from living in the present, it can also leave you with crippling anxiety and insecurities. But few people talk about the real danger of social media addictions.
Facebook addictions make you boring IRL. Nobody wants to hear about what he said on Facebook, what she said on Facebook or what you said on Facebook. If they wanted to know, they would have already seen it, liked it, and moved on.
4. Becoming Internet Famous
The Instagram models will tell you that there’s nothing better than being Internet famous. It drives traffic to their websites and many have become millionaires from their bedrooms. But that’s not entirely true. Its fine for some but in most cases, it means having every shred of privacy ripped from you before you’ve even realized what’s happening.
Sometimes you’re made Internet famous because you over shared or posted the wrong thing. But sometimes, somebody just decides to make you their victim, maliciously or not. All it takes is one post, one tweet or one picture. All of a sudden, you’ll have hundreds of thousands of adoring fans and the media at your door step.
But in all seriousness, you need to watch what you post because you’re only one silly picture away from becoming the next Ermahgerd girl.
5. Nothing Is Private
The real danger of social media is not that you might say the wrong thing to the wrong person. The real danger is the fact that one determined person with nothing else to do can find your name, your phone number, your address, your parents’ address, your third-cousin’s Twitter, your boss, your co-worker, your ex-lover, the ex-lover you briefly forgot about and use all this information to systematically tear your life apart piece by piece.
But why would someone go through so much trouble to do that? Because it was probably not that hard. There’s a good chance your own web presence coupled with some inventive searches led them straight down the trail to destroying your social life, your relationships and your career all in one fell swoop.
Social media can build you up. But the way it is used today can also tear you down. Keep this in mind the next time you post anything other than a funny cat video.
Featured photo credit: Ian Clark via flickr.com