From the depths of my spleen, I will now take the time and effort to comment on what grinds my gears about social media. In the style of lists that the internet knows and loves, I will now countdown my top four things I don’t like about the ‘book of face’.

The idea of ‘fishing for likes’

This method is used to validate feelings, friendship or positivity, as well as to gain sympathy for the problems in your life. Everyone in society has problems, but most just deal with them on their own without involving their social media community like some impromptu version of group therapy. In my experience, people who do this open themselves to ridicule, devaluing how serious or legitimate their problem is.

Perception in social media matters more than truth 

I have seen a number of instances in the last few years where a controversial story has been reported on Facebook, and a majority of people have commented or formed an opinion. This often includes an attack upon the presumed guilty party, with a response by any individuals who feel offended. More often than not the story is then proven false by new evidence, and all that anger is proven misplaced. People are often too quick to jump to conclusions, and Facebook demonstrates this with a permanent online record of all comments. How often do people retract said comments publicly? More often than not, they will simply delete the comment, and act like nothing has happened. It has spread to the mainstream media too; journalists are too quick to report rumours as fact, as social media and media outlet stories rely upon speed. The first report garners the most attention and receives the most views (and therefore the most advertising revenue).

The belief that having many ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ is a measure of one’s popularity 

It reinforces the belief that if someone is not popular or has fewer friends, they are lesser and have a less valid opinion than someone who is more popular. Rather than quiet achievement, social media encourages users to brag about every social and life event to get a ‘Like’ from our peers, to validate achievements and recognise popularity. Facebook is effectively promoting arrogance and narcissism. It’s no wonder that the rate of teenagers experiencing depression and anxiety are sky-high. A lot of today’s culture is based on fear: fear of loneliness, fear of violence or crime, and fear of unpopularity or awkwardness. People perceived as awkward are subjected to ridicule, ostracism, and general alienation by the more popular members of the social scene. This criticism is often behind their backs, sometimes used to boost their standing or to distract themselves from their own problems.

It has become necessary to maintain some sort of online presence 

Social media has created the perception that if something is not documented online then it does not exist, popularising the term ‘pics or it didn’t happen’. Well, I’d argue that they should ‘live, or life doesn’t happen’. Not everyone feels the need to post every aspect of their lives online. Some people are naturally more private than others, myself included.

Words by Damian Brown