Social (Media) Anxiety

Is there more to fear than to trust in our ever-changing cyber world?

A recent The New York Times article might lead you to say yes.

Many aspects of our lives, from our family photo albums to our jobs have moved from the physical world into the unknown territory of cyberspace. This shift includes not only how we spend our time, but who we share it with. Article author, Thomas Friedman, describes cyberspace as a “realm where we’re all connected, but no one’s in charge.”

Anyone can generate a seemingly legitimate post on Facebook and their followers will absorb it as the truth. We spend an increasingly inordinate amount of our time scrolling through hours of information, and are still left not knowing who to trust. Take, for example, the current President of the United States who regularly addresses the American citizens through a 140-character tweet with little to no regard for facts or feelings.

Friedman cites a study from the Stanford Graduate School of Education that found that students actually experience an inability to reason about the information they consume through the internet. The article goes on to quote Professor Sam J. Weinberg, the study’s lead author, as stating that “many people assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally perceptive about what they find there. Our work shows the opposite to be true.”

As an adult living through our current societal state, this is particularly troubling.

The future of our society is dependent upon our current youth to be able to make rational decisions involving the world in which they live. Moving aspects of what is tangible (the physical world) into what is intangible (cyberspace) creates new challenges for understanding our lives.

In this new age of cyberspace it is important to remember to spread your messages with basic human decency and consume the messages of others with a dash of skepticism. This is, however, not as easy as it sounds.

The internet and social media have brought with it a variety of challenges as well as opportunities for new connections. I hope that in this realm of cyberspace, and the anxiety that comes with it, we do not lose sight of trusting others and what is inherently good in the human race.

 

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One Response to Social (Media) Anxiety

  1. sydhavely says:

    Quite profound–not only in what Friedman is saying but in how you interpreted it. Great post. Friedman’s new book, though quite long, is worth reading–“Thank You for Being Late” in terms of where the cyber world is taking us and what we need to do to stay with the tsunami of change it is bringing.

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