The Dark Side of Social Media


Twitter has been a place I’ve loved since I started using it six years ago.  It has connected me with many people that share the same passions as I do.  I’ve not realized until recently though just what kind of a place it really is, along with other social media sites.  I’ve seen others tweet about the problem recently too.  That’s why I took a step back from social media websites, particularly Twitter (because I spend the most time on it and post the most on it), over the past couple of weeks.  I did this to think about the messages I’m portraying, as well as what others are portraying.

Social media websites have become (or have always been) a place where people do whatever they can for attention and self-worth.  Some people want to paint their life as perfect.  Others want to give you every last detail of what they do in their life.  It’s easy to do that.  When nobody is around to talk to, or you want to escape the people around you, the social media websites are right there for you to express whatever you’re feeling.  And that’s where the biggest problem comes into play: negativity.

Humans experience a wide variety of emotions.  It’s difficult to keep all those in.  People need a means to express these emotions.  When the social media websites are right there, whatever a person is feeling at that moment can be expressed within seconds. The good and the bad.  It’s easy to see how celebrities and professional athletes have come under scrutiny for something they’ve posted when anything can easily be shared within seconds.  It’s also easy to see why some celebrities and professional athletes don’t want to even set up accounts out of fear that they’ll post something like that.  We may not have as much attention on us, or have to answer questions about anything bad we post, but that doesn’t mean we should be posting these kinds of things anyway.

Lately when I’ve been on Twitter, the bad/negative tweets have stuck out to me every single time I see one.  It’s gotten to the point where it’s overwhelming to constantly see.  All the things people complain about, most of which are unimportant.  For example, after the US Open final, everyone was talking about how unloved Novak is because of the crowd support Federer received during the match.  It was an easily noticeable thing for anyone who watched the match, as it may have been one of the most one-sided crowds in history.  It was a fair point to bring up, but then days and weeks were going by and people were still talking about it.  The thing is, when you constantly talk about it, that just fuels it even more that he’s unloved.  When there’s no fuel to it, then it dies.  I understand sticking up for your favorite player, but that doesn’t mean you have to go out of your way to do it.  You don’t need to bring it up at every instance when that notion proves to be false in the future, either.  That’s what probably gets me the most frustrated.  I see people tweet things to the “haters” after Novak does something well.  To me, they’re taking you away from the moment and being able to cherish what Novak accomplished.  They’re distracting you.

The thing about it is, you can’t control what happens to your faves, whether they win or lose.  You can’t control other people’s perceptions of your fave.  They will continue to think as they choose, perhaps bringing you into a negative mindset in the process.  If a player is your favorite, that’s all that should matter.

It’s not just the negative messages though.  There’s also all the drama on social media sites.  It can be interesting sometimes, but most of it is unnecessary.  It’s all about your way of communicating a thought or idea.  That’s where we get back to attention seeking.  Sometimes adding a little drama can make something funnier and that’s perfectly fine, but most of the time it’s over the top.

Another issue with social media sites is what the picture at the beginning of this article shows.  The man won’t come to bed because “someone is wrong on the internet.”  It’s hilarious and true.  People feel the need to correct everything if there’s a mistake.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s the way it’s done.  People seek out flaws in something, even if they’re not there.  Perhaps out of jealousy.  Then they make the mistake public to let other people know someone else is wrong.  This notion of wanting to be “right” goes a long way.  It’s all people want.  I know I’ve rooted for things to happen just so I’d be right.  Other people do it too.  It’s heightened through the internet.

The final issue I’ll mention with social media sites may encapsulate the entirety of the problem.  It’s that everyone feels the need to let everyone know every last opinion they have.  A person goes through their feed, sees something, and immediately feels the need to give their opinion/view about it.  On most occasions, nobody cares or will even respond or like it.


For me this is all about enhancing the positive features of social media sites: connecting people who share common interests from all over the world, and allowing them a means to communicate and learn about one another and their passions.  Imagine how amazing it would be to go through your news feed and only see positive, funny, or thought provoking messages, rather than the trash we see today.  Wouldn’t that enhance our society and ourselves?  It’s become all about getting attention and likes, that can negatively alter the ways we see ourselves and our worth.  We can change that outlook though. We control the messages we send out.  We can either enhance ourselves, or continue to bring ourselves down.  It’s our own responsibility what we post on social media websites.  As the man shows us in the cartoon above, we all have superpowers.  We can change ourselves and our culture to make it more positive.

There’s a few things I’d like to set straight.

One, I have done all the things I’ve said above.  I’ve tweeted negative and drama filled things.  I’ve shared every opinion and looked for flaws in tweets to correct them.  I’d even say I’ve inadvertently sought attention and likes at some stages without realizing it.  I recognize what these kinds of messages can do to others that see them and I’m not going to do them again.  I’m hopeful others will analyze what messages they’re sending in the things they post and try to cut back on it, or stop it all together.  To think for a second before they push the “send” or “post” button.  I’d just like to see us build a community greater than ourselves.

Novak, as my idol, has inspired me to become better at dealing with difficult circumstances.  Seeing him being such a great loser has helped me with my ability to deal with tough losses.  He’s always very respectful to his opponent after a loss, which has made it easier on me, because, if he’s not even angry, why should I be?  At the end of the day, we are all human and there’s more important things in life than who the winner of a match was on a given day. Perhaps Novak having such a phenomenal season could be the reason I’ve become better at dealing with losses, as well, in that I haven’t had to deal with many losses or disappointments. It’s mostly only been success. Some of my other faves and sports teams haven’t been as fortunate this season though and I’ve felt more at peace when they’ve lost lately.  There comes a point where you just have to say “too good” or realize your fave isn’t in good form and accept the loss.  I’ve gotten better at that lately.

Another thing I’d like to set straight is I don’t mean that every single person is posting the kinds of messages I’ve mentioned above. There are some truly amazing people who use social media websites effectively.  I won’t mention any names, but I appreciate what they do.  It doesn’t go unnoticed with me.  I’m sure others feel the same way.

Lastly, I’d just like for everyone reading to think about what kinds of things they post and to think about what category they’d put themselves in and what category other people would put you in.  Most of the time you may be using the social media websites responsibly, but it’s about using them as close to 100% responsibly as possible. To enhance yourself and others. Even if you only tweet or post one thing that would apply to a category mentioned above, that’s too many.  One of my favorite skiers, Mikaela Shiffrin, once said that before she hits the “post” button, she always takes a minute to think about if what she said could offend anyone in any way.  We should all do that.



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