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The Dark Side of Social Media

My game plan is to research, condense my findings, and translate it into everyday language for busy people.


Facebook and other forms of social media have taken over the internet. Obviously, people are on social media because they think it enhances their lives. Yet, does it really? Are people really getting on Facebook to socialize or are they surveying other people and their posts to see what goes on? Are they venting about their dislike of politics or government entities in the world in general? (Venting has been shown to fuel anger not lessen it.) Are people fighting on Facebook or other forms of social media and destroying relationships rather than enhancing them or enhancing people's lives?

In 2014, a study was published in "Computers in Human Behaviors" that revealed that the majority of people on social media are not using it as a means of being social. Instead it was revealed that the majority are using it as a means of consuming information, which researchers found leaves them unfilled and unsatisfied. In 2016, another study was done, that was published in "Current Opinion of Psychology" that said that envying other people on social media leads to depression. When you are scrolling through vacation photos of someone's recent trip to Hawaii, happy relationship statuses, parties, or people having a good time in general and you are ill, sad, or alone it just makes you feel all the more lonely and depressed.


Why Do People Use Social Media?

Two of the top reasons people use social media is to keep in touch with people and also to monitor people. Throughout all of history, surveillance has been used to guard against danger and to try and keep one's self safe. One third of people have actually reported that they use Facebook to gather information about their ex- romantic partners. Some would say that this is "stalking", "pathological", etc. However, most of the checking behavior on partners or ex-partners on social media does not meet that criteria. The term for this is "Interpersonal electronic surveillance monitoring". Indicators of on-line surveillance are related to low-quality relationships, low satisfaction, and bad relationships in general.

Research was done by Tara Marshall of Brunell University that concluded a third of freshly single people engaged in Interpersonal Electronic Surveillance. The research revealed that "Continued online exposure to an ex-romantic partner may inhibit post break-up recovery and growth". A study that was done earlier concluded that Facebook surveillance behavior by either partner was in direct correlation with partner dissatisfaction. The research actually shows that now that we are no longer in the age where the worst thing that can happen is you see your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend with their new romantic partner in the mall or when you happen to see them out in public. We are being bombarded by pictures of them going out for beer, dating, and thoroughly enjoying themselves.

When it comes to divorce and legal proceedings, it has been documented that two thirds of lawyers claimed that Facebook was the main source of evidence in divorce proceedings. MySpace was named as providing 15% and Twitter was named as providing 5%. The statistics that were reported not only documented infidelity but also documented activities that jeopardized parental custody in child custody cases.

What Happens When People Use Social Media Too Much?

There was a study done at the University of Michigan where researchers concluded that the more time someone spends on Facebook, the more depressed they become. It also evokes feelings of jealousy, resentment, and feelings of inadequacy when scrolling through the positives of other people's lives. A study done in Sweden at the University of Gothenburg revealed similar results when it was declared "results showed that Facebook usage had a significant negative relationship with self-esteem. In other words, the results indicated that users who spent more time on Facebook have lower self-esteem".


Facebook can for some people also be a trigger for P.T.S.D. When the videos of Philandro Castro and Sterling were streamed live on Facebook for many African Americans and other people it triggered their P.T.S.D. In the week of Sterling's and Castro's death there was an abundance of expressions of mental and psychological problems all over Facebook. One of the biggest communities impacted was the African American. However, they are not they only ones affected by such graphic videos of people dying at the hands of the police.

"We're witnessing mentally and emotionally traumatizing videos and pictures. It's enough, it's just enough. It's so overwhelming all the time. There are people who are having trouble sleeping, who are having trouble eating. There are people who are having the symptoms of P.T.S.D. in the truest sense"-- April Reign

In conclusion, social media can affect people very negatively. It is a public bulletin board where people post all kinds of things. However, there is research being done that points to the indication that this form of "socializing" is actually damaging to humans. It can hinder a healing process that people go through after rejection, amplify feelings of inadequacy and jealousy, and it can also trigger P.T.S.D. while being linked to depression and making people feel worse.

Sources Cited:

These sources were reviewed during the week of February 19th to February 24, 2018.


Ezria Copper (author) on July 28, 2018:

That was really interesting.

Ian on July 24, 2018:

My latest paper deals with this: Social media? It’s serious! Understanding the dark side of social media. It is free to download here till 12th Sept 2018.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on February 24, 2018:

I can understand how social media can lead to depression and anxiety. I don't use it to much, but it's useful for me to keep in touch with friends and family.