Alarmist nonsense and legitimate fear

The report we read this week painted a very rosy picture of the internet and it’s impact on our culture and selves. I don’t disagree, but I do have questions. Relatively little of the report focused on the role of social media, which is one of the most significant items in the internet’s ever-expanding arsenal of impact factors. Now. I don’t want to be one of those people who espouses alarmist nonsense that declares this tool unequivocally bad, but I do attempt to be conscientious in regard to noticing the way it impacts my life. It isn’t always for the better, even though sometimes it is. I was quite frankly shocked at how few respondents said that the internet had impacted both culture and their own lives’ both positively and negatively. And then I wondered (and this all hinges on the assumption that I am correct and that the internet/social media do in fact have some negative consequences) if people are, in fact, unaware that something as valuable as the internet and all of the tools it allows for can have negative consequences. Were it not for the countless studies that have made the negative impacts of fast food on our bodies, how many people would be in-tune enough with their own health to identify a Big Mac as a potential cause of poor health? Are we, without the benefit of history, in the best position to assess the internet’s impact on our lives? I think maybe it needs to be framed the right way for people to really consider this option. My attempt? A series of guiding questions.

  1. Does/has the internet/social media made me a less patient person?
  2. As a result of social media do I expect instant gratification more than I once did?
  3. Do I compare myself to other people and more difficult-to-reach standards as a result of my social media use?

Obviously, this is not a rigorous endeavor. I do, however, think it might be a valuable exercise to undertake, just in case the alarmists, extreme and exaggerated though they may be, have a kernel of truth in their case.

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