Over the years social media use has become a regular part of our lives, to the point where it is essentially unheard of to not have minimally one or two social media accounts. If someone told you they did not have social media of any kind, your likely reaction would be shocked due to its prominence. It has become a source to communicate, entertain, and stay updated on various types of daily news.
There are many positive things to be said about social media. For instance: how it grants people the ability to learn about recent events or information they wouldn’t actively seek out otherwise, how it connects people all over the world and allows us to meet new people and form connections regardless of their proximity, and how it exposes us to various forms of entertainment and generates inspiration. With that being said, social media isn’t all butterflies and rainbows.
Although social media undoubtedly has had a positive impact on the world in many ways, it has also created many new problems. These problems include the lack of fact-checking, terminology misuse, and something that has become an issue in recent years; being chronically online.
The term chronically online can mean two different things: number one is someone who spends too much time online and loses the ability to decipher what discourse is genuinely important offline. Number two is any discourse that has no actual impact in the “real world,” discourse that only exists as an issue within the realm of social media.
It is important to have discourse about genuinely important topics and social media can be an important tool to have this discourse on a large scale. However, in recent years discourse has popped up that has little weight in the real world. A lot of these “chronically online” takes misuse language and lack any type of nuance that exists in most real-world discourse. One prominent example I’ve seen is a strong reaction to relationships with a large age gap.
It is normal to be sketched out by some of these relationships, but some people on the internet have made the accusation that the older person in the relationship is “grooming” their significant other. Grooming is a specific psychological tactic that means way more than someone pursuing and engaging in relationships with people younger than them. Grooming involves someone taking advantage of their position of authority in order to manipulate someone by gaining their trust in order to pursue an inappropriate relationship.
Grooming is just one example I can think of, but the point remains the same; social media provides an incredible opportunity to spread awareness about anything faster than ever before. As long as we fact-check our statements, don’t misuse sources, and don’t engage in unproductive discourse we can ensure social media is used as a positive platform to learn accurate information and spread positivity.