The Selfishness of Social Media
Here are some ways that social media feeds your selfishness.
As an online platform, social media is inherently self-focused. You create and customize a profile that highlights you. You also can determine who your friends and followers are. You can showcase all the positives (and sometimes negatives) from your life. Even the ads you see are directed at your online habits. Ultimately, social media is foundationally about you. But we can easily forget this self-focused foundation when we interact with others and believe we are on a noble crusade to be on the right side of truth.
Obsession with Likes and Notifications
Social media quietly reinforces this self-centeredness through the subtlety of “likes” and “notifications.” All the various social media platforms have their own versions of a feedback system that alerts you to when others interact on your profile. This feedback is not only visual or audible but may also be touch where the user is alerted the moment interaction occurs on their page (the alert on a smart phone or watch for example).
While the feedback our social media gives us may seem innocent enough or can be overlooked as frivolous fun, they reinforce our self-centered desires. Every notification is a potential self-esteem boost as we feel like someone is looking at our page. Every “like” is a positive interaction that releases dopamine so that we want more of it. It is not long that this feedback turns into an obsession where we crave more of it.
Envy Toward Others with more Followers
On social media, we can easily tell who the “popular” or “important” people are. They are the ones with the high friend or follower count. As such, it would appear that these high friend/follower count profiles are the ones making a tangible difference. In our quest to be known, we desire to achieve a similar status like those whose words influence a large multitude. We develop jealous feelings toward those we envy and may ignore the impact this has upon our hearts.
The Ends Justify the Means
We can stand for many great and important causes. Social media allows us to advocate for certain positions or stand in solidarity with causes we want to support and in a community with others who share similar concerns. In our passion and haste to defend our position (however right it may be), we believe that our online words are acceptable. Our opinion/stance is what matters, and we will do whatever it takes to win the argument including, but not limited to, belittling our opponents. Thus, the focus remains inward on ourselves where our pride continues to build as we are encouraged by our supporters, but outside observers only see hateful spite and vicious speech from our profiles.