Welcome to day 10 of our 'Tech for Good reality checks' series, where we're looking at the paradoxical nature of social media - does it connect or isolate people?
Social media platforms, while never explicitly branding themselves as 'Tech for Good', love to talk about their role in connecting people, fostering communities, and bringing the world closer. But let's face it – is this truly what’s happening?
Many see a different picture: endless scrolling (also known as doom-scrolling), and consuming content that's designed to elicit emotional responses (often negative). Rather than filling our downtime with meaningful activities, we're increasingly lost in digital spaces that provide temporary relief but ultimately leave us feeling emptier.
Twitter originally described itself as a public platform for open discussions and uniting people, but it’s now devolved into a platform people log onto to get angry at political hot takes. The platform purposefully polarises its users to drive anger-based engagement. Besides, we don’t think it can be a good sign if one of your platform’s KPIs is to ‘increase unregretted user minutes on our platform’.
Facebook, also talks about uniting people, yet evidence suggests that social media can lead to more isolated lives, shorter attention spans, and even compromised democracies.
It's tragic that what were once hailed as platforms for staying in touch and sharing life's moments have morphed into tools for political manipulation and spreading misinformation.
If you’d like some further reading, this article summarises some of the psychological impacts of spending time on these platforms in an excellent way: