#WHYSOSOCIAL | CYBER-BULLYING AND CRIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA (PT.2)

#WhySoSocial is a documentary series that looks at the forever growing trend of social media use amongst young people. In this three-part series, Nat Black-Heaven speaks to people that actively use social media, embrace it and live it to further understand its addictive nature.

Part 2 focuses on the prominence and rise of cyber-bullying and crime using social media and the dangers it can cause… sometimes leading to death! It also gives suggestions on prevention techniques, where and how to find help.

MORE TO WATCH

#WHYSOSOCIAL | ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION (PT.1)

INSIGHTS & CHILL | Is there racism in western privilege?

INSIGHTS AND CHILL | Should White People Be Allowed To Say The ‘N’ Word When Singing Along To Music

At What Age Should We Start Engaging With Social Media?

Social Media and Anxiety

What would happen if the internet shut down for a day?

Are you in control of your phone or is your phone in control of you?

Be Yourself and Let Your Creativity Shine

Social Media and Generational Values

INSIGHTS & CHILL | The education system is flawed!

The education system is flawed… Yes, I said it.

Where has the creativity gone? Did it even exist? Why do we not teach our young people to free think? Why isn’t this even a subject?

We live in a world of systematic judging. Judging that exposes the deep vulnerabilities of children. We have a high rate of depression and anxiety amongst young people in the western world and it’s not helped by the fact that our schools exploit the ‘less abled.’

When I was a child, I publicly got put into the lowest maths set in my year. I was devastated. Not only the fact that I felt like I was stupid and unable to learn but also because my teacher stood up in the front of the class to a bunch of 11 and 12-year-olds and read out my grade and the proceeded to say “Set C.”

I felt humiliated and I wanted to cry.

But who says just because you can memorise what a teacher has told you previously or what study books have told you that this means that you’re not clever enough? Even if this wasn’t explicitly said, this is how many young people are made out to feel… As if they’re not clever enough or good enough.

However, in the real world, it’s not like this. Yes, I wasn’t the best or most clever student but I have become fairly successful in life. Even though I wasn’t given the early tools to succeed.

We have always been told by our teachers and parents that “you need the best grades to go to a good school, then you need the best grades to go to a good college, then you need the best grades to go to a good university and then finally you need the best grades to get a good job.” You don’t! You just need to apply yourself creatively and freely. Of course, education is important, but showing people your worth is just as important. Create something that’s yours. Volunteer. Be active. Start a movement. These are the best ways to succeed.

In this session of Insights & Chill, I speak with people who say education is a systematic way of categorising to find the cream of the crop. But it shouldn’t be that way.

At What Age Should We Start Engaging With Social Media?

 

Following on from the previous post, Olly and I thought it would be good to discuss at what age is it appropriate to engage with social media.

Oliver Campey writes his thoughts below.

A study back in 2014 conducted by Dr Richard Woolfsen and knowthenet.com highlighted that more than half of children had used social media by the age of 10. The report also found that 43% of these children had messaged strangers or engaged with negative comments by the age of 12.

The cynic amongst us may question the validity of the report or condemn certain elements in terms of how easy they are to measure. However, the fact does remain that children are engaging with social media at an increasingly younger age and it needs to be investigated as to whether this is safe.

Firstly, one the foundations of adopting any form of new technology or service is having an education on how best to use it. It’s a fact that when looking into the syllabus for younger age groups children are not educated by this stage on the positive and negative effects of social media. Personally, I think this needs to change. I wouldn’t say there’s an issue with the age that children are interacting with social media because as a generation we are adapting to new technologies at an earlier age than ever before. However, what does need addressing is providing children with an education from a young age so that they have a greater understanding of how to appropriately engage with social media.

Secondly, there needs to be further research into the negative effects of dopamine on the human brain and the formation of an addiction to likes and positive engagement across social platforms. As discussed in the previous post dopamine can be triggered by things such as gambling, alcohol, and smoking all of which are regulated and carry age restrictions of 18 or above. As highlighted by AdWeek, social media channels generally enforce an age restriction of 13+ and so there could be an argument to bring it more in line with the age restrictions for smoking, gambling, and alcohol.

Thirdly, social media is having a hugely negative impact on the younger generations ability to socialise and form meaningful relationships with their friends. Only yesterday was I sat in a cafe and I witnessed a group of friends all sat on their phones and not conversing with one another. To make things worse, when one of the group did spark up some form of a conversation, the others responded with a nod of the head or a mumbled grunt and continued flicking through their phones.

What kind of message does that send out to the person who initiated the conversation? It’s essentially saying, you’re not interesting enough for me to listen. I agree with Nat that we need to ensure that from a young age people are connected and have the ability to consume information whenever they need it. It’s common knowledge that teenagers are spending more time on sites such as YouTube and Vimeo to learn new skills and acquire new information.

I just think their needs to be a greater level of education on the safe and effective use of social media across the school system and for parents. A report by the NSPCC found that “More than half of parents are unaware of the age limit on Social Media”, this means they aren’t making well-informed decisions when allowing their children to roam free across social channels. If more work is done to provide children with a better education, it will eradicate so-called ‘social bad habits’ and allow us to become better communicators both professionally and personally.

Check out Nat’s vlog below for a greater level of insight into this topic!

The Comparison Factor

Firstly I’d like to introduce a good friend of mine called Oliver Campey who runs ‘olliecampey.com‘. We got our heads together late last year and have decided to get started with a series of social media related blogs/vlogs. Our first blog will focus on the perception vs reality aspect of social media and the comparison factor and you can find Ollie’s written analysis with his thoughts embedded below.

In an age where social media has intertwined itself with almost every aspect of our daily lives, it would be fair to assume that as a population we have acclimatised fairly well to the psychological challenges that come with opening up our world to the public.

The use of social media grew at a far faster rate than anyone could’ve ever predicted and not just from a personal perspective, in business too, social media has now become one of the most powerful tools for marketing your products, creating customer engagement and promoting your brand. There is no doubt that the birth of Social Media has introduced some incredible platforms into the world

Instagram – Being able to visually present your life to the world has put everyone back in touch with their inner creative (optimisation tips available here)

Facebook – Being able to connect with friends you’ve met around the world so you don’t lose touch and share all types of content

YouTube – A platform for masses to create, absorb and share video content
And these are just a few examples…

However, whilst Social Media continues to develop and we continue to improve at marketing our personal and professional journeys there is a much darker side to the all of this. I feel it’s important that it’s brought to the surface so that younger generations can develop the correct coping mechanisms for dealing with the negative implications that can arise when Social Media is misinterpreted or misunderstood.

One of the most widely talked about side effects of Social Media is the ‘comparison factor’. Particularly amongst people in their early teens, the upward comparisons being made against content posted by they’re friends/peers is leading to a reduction in self-esteem, higher levels of jealousy and in turn higher levels of depression amongst teenagers.

However, the problems run much deeper than this and only now are we beginning to see more and more cases of the vicious circle that is consuming many young people in society. The ‘comparison factor’ can often be the trigger point that sets off the cycle of negative thoughts although there are many other reasons and external circumstances which can influence the mood of a person when engaging with Social Media.

One of the biggest issues is a chemical called dopamine, often referred to as the chemical behind all of our sins and secret cravings. In it’s simplest form dopamine is a chemical that acts as a messenger between brain cells and is responsible for things such as movement and speech.

However, it also plays a role in addiction due to the heightened sense of satisfaction we receive when the brain receives a so-called ‘fix’. You see it most amongst smokers (nicotine), alcoholics (alcohol) and gambling, now it’s beginning to take effect on Social Media too, particularly when people receive a ‘like’ or positive comment. It’s been proven amongst various research articles that dopamine triggers the ‘reward molecule’ in our brain and this okay for people who live with a very low level of stress and in broader terms are on good terms with the way their life is being played out.

Where the problem needs addressing is amongst people who suffer from depression, sadness, mental trauma or even temporary stints of unhappiness. The reason being is that people are turning to Social Media to get the ‘likes’ which as we know triggers the reward system in our brain leading to a feel-good factor. As we are aware with the other types of addiction, if this is prolonged over a period of time then the reaction becomes hard-wired in our brains and lo and behold forms an addiction.

It becomes a double-edged sword on many levels. The craving to get the likes/comments places extreme amounts of pressure on people to find content that will generate that type of engagement and when they can’t achieve this a sense of unfulfillment and sadness sets in. It’s also acting as a temporary fix and so the next day it becomes a repeat process meaning people are never actually learning to deal with the root of what’s causing them to feel sad, they’re only ever masking the problems and making their life seem something it’s not to the outside world.

This is extremely dangerous because to their friends, family, employers, it will seem as if everything is great and therefore they can’t offer the kind of support and advice that is needed to help nurture them through the period of negative thinking.

When we think about someone’s life and how they’re getting on, we tend to scan their social media and from the outside everything often looks great. The pictures of nights out with friends, sunny holidays, smiley selfies but in reality on the inside it can often be a very different picture.

To conclude, there is no doubt that social media can have an extremely positive effect on both our personal and professional journeys. There does, however, need to be a greater understanding amongst society about the negative implications that come with prolonged usage and most importantly how we deal with that.

Social Media and Anxiety

Anxiety within teenagers is a real issue, especially in the western world and more specifically America.

A lot of research has been conducted on this topic and although there are many reasons to why a teenager could become anxious one of the main reasons researchers suggest is due to a repetitive use of social media.

If young people use an extended amount of their time on social media, staring at a screen instead of getting out and experiencing outside life, they’ll learn about conducting themselves and positioning themselves as adults. Right now, the issue is that they are not doing this.

The simple answer to counter all of this is that teenagers need to put down their phones and experience life and it’s elements so that when they are put into difficult and personal building situations, they don’t become anxious.

Love on social media

In this new age of social media, can relationships be what they used to be? Can you love someone unconditionally without showing the world how much you love someone? Of course you can but there are people who choose to document their relationship online for the whole world to see?

Getting more “likes” or more “views” or simply just more engagement has become far more important to people than many other meaningful things that we could label as meaningful only a few years ago. We are now seeing people share the most intimate part of their lives as a show to gain an audience and a following to ultimately gain a more monetary status. This is more than a reality TV show, this is reacting to people, demanding to see the ins and outs of the life you live.

But is this really a meaningful relationship? Is sharing every facet of your life keeping your relationship together? If it is… Is that true love?

Trends and social stigmas

We’re living in a life full of trends and what I like to call “the new age of peer pressure.” We’re now more so than ever trying to fit in with our social crowd and doing things that we would have never thought about doing five, ten or even fifteen years ago.

Let’s look at tattoos, gluten free or even veganism and try and understand how and why these have become social trends. Yes, people are educating themselves and become more “open” about such things but people are also seeking a way to become a part of a social setting that where they can “fit in.” With the rise of social and digital media, information is much easier to grasp that in the 90s and we’re being taught or some may say “brainwashed” into following trends unconsciously.

But maybe there’s a point to that…

Living in a Digital Circle

Everyone has the right to experience the natural wonders of the world. Although not everybody has the necessary tools or opportunities to do so, they still have the right.

We, as humans have the ability to grant that right to anybody and we do. Through the eyes of social media, we can bring the amazing waterfalls of Foz do Iguaçu to a young Bangladeshi girl that may never get to witness it in person… But why doesn’t everybody also have the right to classified government documents or to be in the board room discussing the next player that the New England Patriots want to sign?

Don’t we all have the right to be a part of what the world produces… We are part of this world and what we produce is a sub element of Earth… Is it not?

Non-verbal communication has taken over

We do not need to communicate verbally anymore. We are living in an age of technology innovations where the need to interact with someone with speech has disappeared. With messaging based apps on the rise and the comfort of expressing your mind over a screen rather than face to face takes over, verbal communication will continue to dwindle.

The future will host a world of virtual reality and augmented reality taking non-verbal communication that much further.

Are video games a reality?

Video games have become a way of life for many people; young and old. They become so engrossed into digital entertainment that it has turned into a form of reality that is becoming increasingly difficult to step away from.

With the advancement in video game play and the tools that have allowed video gaming to become more ‘realistic’, we are now living in an age that can literally put us into games.

Take VR for example, a tool that allows people to live within a simulation or an event, or a game. This is the beginning of a world where we will no longer rely on the control pad to control our sword-wielding character but yet we will soon be able to use actions and thoughts to defeat the flame throwing nemesis that confronts us.

We live in a time where Egaming has blown up on a massive scale with a large influx of money that has been pumped into the industry. This has attracted a wave of gamers with a hunger to ‘make it big’, knowing that they have potential for fame and riches. In some territories across the world, especially South East Asia, it is not uncommon for gamers to where diapers while gaming. Why? So that they don’t lose points while taking a bathroom break. It is also not uncommon for these gamers to be fed while playing. Why? For the same reason.

These video games have now become a reality.

But there are two stories here and I want to ask the same question again. This time, with a twist.

Michio Kaku is an American theoretical physicist who has a lot to do with the way I think about things. He once questioned human life as potentially a ‘simulation.’ Think about that for a second.

Us humans have even created a video game that goes by the name of… ‘The Sims.’ A game where you can create humans inside of a simulation… I want to end by asking you one final question.

Why can’t we humans also be living in a simulation, being controlled by external beings?