Final Project Summary 12/10/21 – Bridget Hall

Social Media has become a prominent force in today’s society – as of 2016 about one third of the world uses social media (Hawi & Rupert, 2016). Despite the many benefits of social media and the interconnectedness that it provides to people around the world, it can be very detrimental if abused and used excessively oftentimes without the user’s knowledge of its effects. Executives, software engineers, and marketers at social media companies are aware of the negative impacts they are having on users, yet they continue to manipulate and target users. Big tech companies such as Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok need to be held accountable and regulated for the well being of their users. It is essential that the hidden dangers of social media such as dependency problems, obsessive behavior, lack of honesty in self-presentation, feelings of loneliness, avoidance of real human interaction, relational issues, poor body image, and mental health issues are brought to light.  

It is clear that U.S citizens have a strong connection to social media and feel a constant need to check their socials periodically. Ian Kerner (2021), a family therapist, explains that Facebook and Instagram’s crash on Monday October 4, 2021 revealed just how “reliant” users have become on social media especially to serve as a way to “distract ourselves, to escape, to connect, to cope with anxiety and stress” (Kerner, 2021, as cited in Giuliani-Hoffman). As technology has evolved, humans have learned to rely on social media to cope with mental health issues rather than seeking out real human interactions. 

In The Social Dilemma (2020), a documentary featured on Netflix, it is explained that social media designers and engineers are always trying to figure out how to “psychologically manipulate” users (The Social Dilemma, 2020). All social media platforms are built to take users down a “rabbithole” and to provide them with the “dopamine hit” (The Social Dilemma, 2020) that keeps them coming back to the app.  

As little control that users have over the functionality of the apps and the data that is being collected on them, they have complete control over how they present themselves on their profiles. Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok specifically are designed to enable users to be content creators themselves. Nicole C. Krämer and Stephan Winter (2008), authors of “Impression Management 2.0” bring up the idea of self-presentational behavior on social media. The pair explain that it is easier for an individual to alter their image on social media, by sharing the “best” parts of themselves, than modifying their real life persona in face-to-face interactions. Krämer and Winter claim that managing one’s profile is more “strategic” than face-to-face communication (Krämer & Winter, 2008). It appears as though social media has become a form of control more than an interactive and communicative form of technology. 

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