Social media has been around long enough for it to lose its original goals
Facebook has been around for more than a decade now, but social media as we know it dates back to Facebook’s predecessors in the late 1990s. Although social media was originally conceived as a platform for people to connect with others, it eventually turned into a pantomime of human interaction fueled by filtered pictures and heated pseudo-debates.
From Myspace to Snapchat, the odyssey of social media is an example of human degradation. When it began, it was, more or less, pure and wholesome. People reconnected with lost friends and keeping in touch became easier than ever.
After a massive increase of users, though, the same media that made socializing so easy became a type of Big Brother rivaling the one mentioned in 1984. We carelessly and voluntarily agreed to be a part of it by ticking boxes that allowed our personal information to be used in exchange of some extra lives in Candy Crush.
I have been on Facebook and Twitter for the past 10 years—I am 21 now—meaning half of my existence is documented in tagged pictures, mobile uploads, stupid tweets from my 13-year-old self and ridiculous status updates.
My transition from tween to teen to (so-called) adult is there for everyone to see and my personal information can be used by any company I blindly grant access to.
Despite any personal feelings of invasion of privacy that I may feel, the constant flow of content that appears on my feed no longer serves the purpose of letting me know what my friends are up to. It turned into a never-ending chain of suggested pages chosen by algorithms that characterize me as a liberal expat who is likely to purchase the products she clicks on.
At least that is what my Facebook account says of me.
That information, gathered by a decade of willingly-posted details, not only serves advertising, but it also forces news articles and media sources into my feed without ever giving me the option of choosing differently. I am engulfed in an echo chamber without even knowing it.
I will gladly assert that the social and political division this country is experiencing is largely caused by social media interactions and lack of post diversity. I mean, people are unfriending their grandparents over political matters.
Just as human nature makes us crave interactions and social acceptance, it also makes us inherently confrontational.
While companies everywhere are making money off our liked pages and interest groups and hackers are shaping our worldview, we keep sharing more about ourselves in exchange for memes and hashtags.
Although I would like to think otherwise, I believe that the depravity of social media is more of a proof of who we are as humans than a phenomenon innate to modern times.
I would like to believe that Facebook is still just a page to see pictures and statuses of your friends and Twitter is a place to share random thoughts, but, in reality, I feel that the current media climate just proves that, as humans, we just cannot have nice things for long because we spoil everything.
In the end, what saddens me most is that social media has become such a big part of our lives that I feel like I am not allowed to leave. The fear of missing out is real, and it is hard to fight.
Stephanie Sanchez is a junior journalism, classics, and political science major from Quito, Ecuador.