Facebook. Twitter. Instagram.
All three of these sound familiar, but do we know what impact they actually have on us?
As I thought about a topic for my Inquiry Proposal, I thought about something that effected (thank you Google for allowing me to search the correct use of effect and affect) the majority of people. I thought about the world as a whole, and something that impacts us tremendously. Social media and its effects on global disasters and tragedy intrigued me the most. Everyday we, specifically teenagers, scroll through our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds, mostly inattentively, and we stumble upon posts that have to deal with tragedy. Whether it be a starving child, a homeless person, or a natural disaster, these posts have intentions of spreading the word. Unfortunately, they do just the opposite. Some of these posts have requests such as “liking” or “sharing” in order to spread awareness, but in reality all we are really doing is simply “liking” and “sharing”. We have become so accustomed to “retweeting” and “favoriting” things, that they have made us numb to the vital importance of the actual post: to actually invoke reactions and instill change. I admit I have fallen victim to this major trend of “sharing” occurring all over social media accounts. In some sense, I feel like I have done my part as a citizen in raising awareness, but the more I think about it, I have done more damage. When we share or like these posts, we are desensitizing ourselves from the actual chaos that is occurring in those posts. Social media creates a blanket that shields us from the real commotion in the world.
As my research has continued, I have found many sources on the effects of social media on tragedy, but mostly have been about teenagers and its impact on them. I figured this would occur, because we are the social media generation and the people being effected by this are younger. As a result of my research, I have modified my question to target the effects on the younger population. Surprisingly, a majority of my sources I was sifting through specified the effects of media violence on teenagers, but as I refined my search I began to dip deep into nonviolent media. In this article, a study by the University of Arizona states that we have indeed become desensitized to the graphic images found all over the internet. A doctorate graduate front he University of Arizona “…conducted an experiment to examine whether the manipulation of the graphicness of visual images of war impacted policy beliefs, attitudes and moods of individuals. They found no significant differences in higher compared to lower levels of graphicness in perceived severity of war or stronger policy perceptions. There also were no differences in mood across graphicness conditions.” These results indicate that we are no longer effected by the level of graphicness in images of tragedy, and that the Internet had put a blanket over the true level of chaos.
“Perhaps it is time that the media should not visually downplay the events of war and start running graphic visuals depicting conflicts as a terrible alternative to peaceful negotiations,” says the conductor of the experiment.
The use of social media is high and will continue to increase as we create more innovative technology. With so much time spent on these media pages and sites, it is inevitable that a glass wall develops between us and the real world. The real world, as in all the tragedy and commotion that occurs that we are not directly exposed to.
As I continue my research, I must be careful of the sources I stumble upon, because this issue is so current there are not a great amount of sources that are reliable. Because this topic relates more generally to the younger population, I think a majority of my resources will be from teenagers directly. While this may seem unreliable, we must remember that we are the social media generation, and how we are living now will someday become statistics to study in the future.