At this point, it is becoming increasingly clear that when it comes to improving the human condition, the rise of virtual communication and social media is not all positive.
Cyberbullying is on the rise, leading to all sorts of adverse consequences around the globe for everyone irrespective of age. Various types of scams based on this type of technology are gutting bank accounts in too many of our communities. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. The rise of technologies based on the internet and social media is troublesome in many respects when it comes to human experience. And it’s up to us all to take this issue seriously at each and every step.
But even as we list the negatives of social media, it is important to note that there are several positive aspects that social media and smartphone technology are bringing to our world. Let’s look at three from a psychological perspective.
We all want social validation at the end of the day. We want others to express their appreciation, understanding and respect for us. A core psychological process that has origins in our evolutionary history is the need for social validation.
With social media, individuals can immediately, publicly and substantially gain social validation.
One of your selfie on Instagram can garner dozens of likes and positive comments such as “wow, you look great!”; “very nice!”; “gorgeous!”; and more. The same goes for Twitter, Facebook and the others. Social validation, a core need for all of us, is now something that is more easily achievable than ever.
Sure, in many ways, this kind of social validation may be superficial and inferior to more genuine, in-person validation from close others. But still, without question, many people today receive various levels of social validation via social media.
Need to appreciate others
A vital part of the positive side of the human experience is to recognize and acknowledge the efforts, achievements, and gracious behavior of others. We like to show gratitude to others and we like it when we are respected by others.
Hence social media, in essence, is a form of cybersmiling—gushing positive vibes to someone across the rainbow of the internet.
Coming together for the greater good
Thousands of success stories from crowdsourcing are out there these days. To raise funds and appreciate all sorts of worthy causes, people use different platforms. In our evolutionary history, the urge for individuals to band together and allow the power of numbers to lead to positive results that could never be accomplished by a single person alone goes far back.
Internet-based crowdsourcing technologies have been used to help users with concerns such as health, the environment, the arts and more. It is also a common platform to come together and protest against something people believe hurts a community. Millions of individuals have benefited in all sorts of positive ways from this kind of technology. And as a result, so many of these people are making a good difference.
Crowdsourcing allows for the support of prosocial, forward-thinking initiatives in ways that are altogether unprecedented.
Choose to stay on the brighter side
As is true for so many aspects of our world when it comes to the human experience, internet-based technologies pose a mixed blessing. They have shown an array of adverse effects, as is true of so many technologies.
This said, the effects of internet-based technologies on the modern world are not all bad. In many ways, they are giving us new tools to enhance the positive features of the human experience. Perhaps most conspicuously, through technologies such as Zoom, we are able to communicate with people immediately and meaningfully, regardless of geographical location which is a fact that has had enormous benefits across the world during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
As we move into this brave new world powered by social media technology, let’s all take steps to wipe out cyberbullying and work to enhance cybersmiling!