The Internet and Social Media produce social harms

The Internet has spread malicious ideas and provided indecent people with anonymity.


Amsell2015, via Wikimedia Commons, creative commons

Fiber optic cables means faster internet, but they also bring faster access to harmful content.

There is no feeling more appalling to me than witnessing others, endowed with my same human nature and placed within the same world as myself, treat each other with complete disregard. Unfortunately, in my experiences with social media, a rapidly growing platform for human exchange, I have been introduced to a world of incomparable malice. On social media networks, from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram, messages of hatred, bullying, and insensitivity are exchanged on a daily basis. The negative impact of these platforms on society was magnified recently when YouTuber Logan Paul uploaded a video mocking the dead body of a suicide victim, warranting a reconsideration of the merits of these websites. Degeneracy has become so strongly rooted in the use of social media that its use should be limited altogether.

The Internet has quickly become a convenient venue for the exchange of malicious ideas. It has provided indecent people with a significant advantage in society’s war on evil: anonymity. Hiding under the guise of fake social media profiles, people now spread hatred over the Internet, often in the form of memes, seemingly humorous images and captions posted onto online forums. While these memes can be used responsibly, a vast majority of them create negative online environments. They have been used to serve a variety of immoral purposes, from poking fun at others’ appearances, to promulgating racism. While some would argue that this behavior is only marginal and has always been a part of society, the negative impacts of this issue cannot be overlooked. Cyberbullying, bullying that takes place on Internet platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, is strongly correlated with tragedies such as teen suicide.

While these memes can be used responsibly, a vast majority of them create negative online environments. They have been used to serve a variety of immoral purposes, from poking fun at others’ appearances, to promulgating racism.

— Charlie Kraemer

What is most concerning about this issue is the scope of people that it affects. While we would like to think that we do not play a role in this destructive behavior, the immense popularity of insensitive messages on social media suggests otherwise. I have seen my own peers and friends join in the ranks of thousands of retweets sharing a hateful tweet, and I have seen myself abuse these networks as well. I have scrolled down the Explore tab of my Instagram account and seen images and posts so vile that one would expect them to be universally condemned, only to notice that they have been liked by hundreds of thousands of people.

Society’s definition of justice has been loosened. Rather than discerning and following a higher path of virtue, we excuse slander on those we disagree with, be it our peers or our political officials, solely because of our disagreement with them. It is high time that we cease to avert our eyes from our own negative behavior, cease to excuse our bullying of another with our disapproval of another, and recognize the evil that occupies much of our action on the Internet.

One of my greatest concerns on this issue is that this injustice is frequently called to our attention, and yet like forgetful children, we revert almost unknowingly to our vices. I feel this is because degeneracy is strongly rooted in the function of social media itself. People don’t communicate with care and tact over the Internet, as it is a place of efficiency. Quantity precedes quality as we navigate hundreds of captions and images in a matter of minutes. Deliberate, meaningful communication can no longer exist because it must occur within the confines of character limits and the seconds of attention given to it. Given this seemingly unchanging role that social media plays in damaging our dialogue, I feel optimistic about only two solutions to its harms: severely limiting our use of these platforms, or reimagining these platforms so that they are used much differently.

The negative impacts of social media are only increasing. In order to combat these concerning trends, we must develop an austere sense of honesty with ourselves and significantly change the way we interact on these platforms to create a society free of bullying and advanced by thoughtfulness.