H2H: Is the Internet Helpful or Harmful?

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Broken Samsung Galaxy phone. November 4, 2016 Adam Fondren, Daily Utah Chronicle.

1. Social Media Lacks Reality

Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, you name it: People have completely syringed these media outlets into their daily lives. We are, as a global population, constant consumers of information, whether it be useful or completely irrelevant. What does this say about the way we live? How does it influence us and our own lives?

Amidst the many hours of my own social media indulgence, I’ve come to the conclusion that each media consumer is becoming two different people. One person is real, tangible and has emotions, and the other is our internet personality. The internet personality I am referring to is the one we shape on our social media sites. We are constantly posting information about ourselves for other people to acknowledge or envy even when it can be completely false or photoshopped. Of course, this is nothing new to anybody. We all know what bragging looks like. But why do we ignore this fact? Why are we so accepting and even convinced of this composed, perfect reality? What is it that drives us to want to look like we have a perfect life?

Some people even go so far as to invest money into their platform by buying followers or likes or purchasing a higher-quality camera for their friends to take photos of them. It is extremely obvious when people do this, and I find it ridiculous. It’s hilarious to imagine what went on behind the scenes to get that perfect shot, or that aesthetically pleasing profile. “Take a picture of me” seems to be the tagline for our generation. The time and energy spent on these silly things are all simply to nourish our desire to be accepted.

Social media is also a modern cause of depression: people see the perfect lives of others and deem their own imperfect lives as deficient in comparison. Even kids deal with this, even when they are too young to consciously understand; they don’t realize that the reason they struggle to love themselves is because they spend all day immersed in a fake reality. Social media creates a fake world that we subconsciously believe to be true, when, in reality, everything is just a five-second snippet of someoneís day.

I see people investing more time and energy on making sure their online personality is worthy of acceptance than caring for their real presence. So many times I have seen what’s portrayed to be a confident, beautiful, adventurous and ambitious girl on social media. She’s the whole package – a 10 out of 10 – but when it comes to reality, she is extremely shy, hardly talks to anyone and is glued to her phone. It relates closely to lying on your resume. The resume can be perfect and a tell-all of your successful past, but when it comes to the interview, you lack the actual charm.

Social media has gone so far as to even manipulate marriages. This is due to the fact that there are now “Instagram husbands” – people whose purpose is to take perfect photos of their partners throughout the day. It’s hard to believe that someone would actually burden another’s time and energy with something as irrelevant as keeping up their online image. Needless to say, social media likely influences relationships in a negative way. It’s the comparison thing. We all do it; we compare ourselves and our lives to others’. But social media exacerbates it.

And yes, there is an argument that different social media sites display useful news information, but it is inevitable that at some point you will come across something on social media that will engrave self-doubt or make you question your self-worth. I think everyone should delete their social media accounts, at least for a few months, to experience the difference it makes on their self-esteem and day-to-day routine.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

2. Technology is an Ally

by Natalie Parkin

The world is filled with technology: smart phones, laptops, shuttle tracking, etc. People constantly use technology to communicate, preserve data and provide quick information. Through these devices and apps, the world has created more jobs and improved communication and education. Technology helps simplify life and is a powerful tool to those who use it correctly.

In classrooms, technology is constantly used by teachers and students. Whether it be a quiz on a computer, math games on iPads or Bill Nye the Science Guy, technology provides access to knowledge. Meadow Rhodes, a film and digital media graduate, says that “With the help of technology, subjects are taught in a more fun and exciting way. Kids can take the learning home and learn while playing games.”

Young adults also share this educational benefit. Online courses have made gaining a college education possible in one’s own time. Buffy Naillon, an educational author, says that courses that take place completely online usually adhere to an asynchronous attendance schedule, allowing students to access the lessons when their schedules permit. This grants great flexibility to students and allows for universities to double the use of the classroom.

Education can be time-consuming, stressful and demanding. With the help of technology, education has become fun, convenient and easier to achieve for professors and students.

As technology has expanded, so has the demand for helping hands. In a study by Deloitte, a financial consultant group in Salt Lake City, it was revealed that a large number of careers have been created in the technology field. The company states that rather than destroying jobs, technology has been a great job-creating machine. Not only do these jobs relate to technology specifically, but it can create jobs in fields such as agriculture or cosmetology. Robert Cohen, a senior worker at the Economic Strategy Institute, predicts that in the next 15 years, due to the increase in technology, as many as 25 million jobs will be created. The more jobs technology creates, the more successful Americans become both individually and as a nation.

On a smaller scale, whether or not social media is a positive form of technology has been heavily debated. Some individuals complain that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat are addictive and dangerous. However, the apps themselves are not the problem. In fact, the apps improve communication, connect us to loved ones and keep us informed of current events.

Too often, these apps are viewed as a poison to society because they are misused. How much time individuals spend on them, who they choose to friend, what they choose to view and what they share privately or publicly is the user’s choice. The problem many individuals face is personal addiction to apps. Then they blame the internet for their lack of self-control. Privacy settings, blocking options and the ability to report problems such as harassment, have been added to these appsí settings to ensure safety and security.

Technology as a whole is not what is addictive. The addiction comes with our own reactions to what we view. We naturally want to feel acceptance from others. Misusing these communication apps by overusing them won’t accomplish that. The apps are meant to be a way of connecting with others and keeping users informed. They are not designed to be ego-boosters. We have the self-control to select positive entertainment, decline friend requests from people we don’t know, share only what we want and make our accounts private.

Technology has more positive aspects than negative ones. Our nation has become more developed and has made more breakthroughs in the past 50 years than we ever could have without technology, and it won’t stop there. We are always finding new ways to expand our knowledge. Technology is not an enemy but an ally. Using it properly will lead to new discoveries and launch us into a new world.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

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