21st Century Tech: Social Media Use in the Age of Mobility

6 pages
1458 words
George Washington University
Type of paper: 
Thesis proposal
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The challenge of the 21st century has been technological adoption in various aspects of social and economic life. The advent of the smartphone, in particular, has brought with it seamless possibilities in connectivity, finance, and trade. One area that interests me is social media use in the age of portable mobile devices such as smartphones, tablet PCs and the like. I am particularly interested in social media use because psychologists have recently linked the use of social media to growing unhappiness among users. Therefore, focusing on the research question, does social media make users unhappy? I intend to develop my thesis that affirmatively responds to the query. Social media use makes us unhappy. To support my thesis, I intend to write an op-ed in response to articles in selected periodicals that have shared useful information on the topic.

I am interested in the topic of social media use because it has become part of social existence. It is not uncommon to be viewed as an outcast if you do not have a Facebook account or if you do not have a smartphone with a WhatsApp contact. As such, the demand for social media use in contrast with its implications for unhappiness makes the topic worth writing about. My choice of an op-ed is because it is a genre of self-expression where personal thoughts, reflections, and reactions can be communicated freely. An op-ed is a perfect choice for writing on the topic of social media as a cause of unhappiness because the topic has been widely commented on by experts in psychology. However, the use of an op-ed to contribute to the discussion serves to express not only my personal experiences of unhappiness with social media but also address the perspective of the user of social media in the discussion rather than the often-available, professional view.

Annotated Bibliography

Bono, Tim. "6 reasons why social media is making you unhappy." Mail Online 16 April 2018. Web. 12 04 2019. <https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5620939/The-6-reasons-social-media-making-UNHAPPY.html>.

Tim Bono delves into the discussion on whether social media makes users unhappy by supporting the fact that indeed social media does make us unhappy. The Healthista expert, Tim Bono's experience is drawn from a pool of experts who regularly write publications for Healthista, a website dedicated to providing healthcare information to members of the public. As an authoritative source and a psychology scholar, Tim Bono presents six reasons that prove social media is making its users unhappy. These include making it difficult to fall asleep, addictiveness, social comparison, replacing personal relations with screen time, poor attention span, and memory lapse. All these attributes combined have the implication of negatively influencing the capability of the individual to achieve happiness. The source proves key in contributing reasons behind unhappiness as associated with the use of social media. In my op-ed, I intend to address each of these reasons individually by referring to this source to help explain how each reason contributes to the state of unhappiness among social media users. Further, the source provides insight into how mitigations can be done to avert the effect of the reasons presented. I find them also useful for discussion in my op-ed.

Garam, Jennifer. "Social media makes me feel bad about myself." Psychology Today 26 September 2011. Web. 12 04 2019. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/progress-not-perfection/201109/social-media-makes-me-feel-bad-about-myself>.

The Brooklyn-based author and writing teacher, Jennifer Garam, presents her reflections about depression and social media use. Her article that appeared on the Psychology Today Periodical is a testament to the struggles that most social media users undergo when faced with the challenge of keeping up a smile on social media posts while in reality they are very sad and frowning. Garam's article is an exemplified piece of literature that utilizes her persona as a case study. This source is quite effective in placing the reader in the shoes of the author as pertains to her social media experiences with unhappiness. In addition, the source is narrated from the first-person perspective meaning that the reader can relate the author's words and apply them to his own life and experiences with social media unhappiness. To that extent, the source is quite authoritative in providing a primary perspective of the experiences of a social media user who ended up being unhappy from its use. I intend to use this source to support my thesis that social media does make users unhappy by quoting from Jennifer Garam's firsthand experiences as shared in her article.

Gil, Kayla. "Social media makes us more unhappy than we think." Odyssey 19 February 2018. Web. 12 04 2019. <https://www.theodysseyonline.com/negatives-of-social-media>.

Kayla Gil begins her article by presenting shocking statistics showing that 60% of social media users have admitted that their self-esteem is negatively impacted based on their experiences on various social media platforms. The source further dares to address the 'elephant in the room' in which, social media is used as a tool for comparison with others. However, Gil notes that comparison with others is often of a far less implication than comparison with the self. When a social media user compares his fake posts of joy and happiness with the reality of his life, depression sets in and he becomes wary of the fact that he is not living to his expectations. To that extent, social media users become sad based on the information that they have publicly displayed on their social media platforms. This source is critical to laying the foundation of my op-ed as it goes straight to the individual user of social media and the implications of the user's actions on his or her happiness. Hence, the source is useful in linking unhappiness in social media use as a consequence of the user's own deceptive posts.

Heid, Markham. "You asked: Is social media making me miserable?" TIME 2019. Web. 12 04 2019. <http://time.com/collection/guide-to-happiness/4882372/social-media-facebook-instagram-unhappy/>.

Markham Heid a writer for the TIME magazine presents journalistic prowess by conducting research that brought together findings from various empirical studies in psychology. The evidence presented in the article proves the point of the topic under evaluation that social media negatively influences the emotions of users. The author quotes findings from decades when there was no technology connecting people pervasively as social media today. Heid quotes researchers in the 1970s and compares their findings to modern day researchers in the 2000s and finds that the ramifications of happiness in social media use are such that social media came before people began becoming so unhappy. The source is quite extensive in its evaluation of the various consequences of social media use among which are our addiction to using it, an insatiable sense of self-gratification, and a collective sense of loneliness that comes from overuse of social media. The level of unhappiness among adults who pervasively use social media was found to be higher than among children and teens. However, early adoption of social media by children at the age of 10 leads to the early onset of depression in the mid-20s of an adult's lifetime. I find this source to be quite central to the topic as it not only presents empirical findings but also provides a comparison of before and after effects of social media adoption on the level of happiness of its users.

Twenge, Jean. "Is social media making us unhappy?" Tonic 23 January 2018. Web. 12 04 2019. <https://tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/kzn9d3/cell-phones-linked-to-unhappiness>.

A professor of psychology at the San Diego State University, Jean Twenge provides insights into whether social media is a tool of unhappiness. By presenting evidence from the results of empirical studies, the author notes that indeed, social media use has been linked to increased levels of unhappiness among youth and adults. Among teens specifically, the author observes that heavy social media use results in greater levels of unhappiness. The source, however, does not demonize social media use entirely. In fact, the parting shot that the author presents is a call to the common adage of 'everything in moderation.' The source explains that complete isolation from social media also amounts to sadness, however, overexposure to social media results in more sadness. Therefore, the author's advice is for social media users to be cognizant of the implications of excessive use of social media on their psychological health as pertains to happiness. For this reason, the author advocates for a maximum time span of an hour a day spent on social media as a precaution against the effects of unhappiness resulting from social media use. I find this article compelling as a source for my op-ed as it gives evidence of scientific research conducted on the topic of interest. Moreover, the source is authoritative as an expert in psychology.

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