Has Social Media Made Us Dumb And Lazy?

Can you still remember those good old days during the early 90’s before the boom of the internet where everything was pretty much hands-on?

Whenever there’s an assignment to work on that requires us to do a research for it, we would just spend our time inside the library digging through books after books hoping to find the information that we are looking for.

These views are so rare nowadays. When the boom of the internet came, many of us started to depend on search engines to help us find solutions to questions that we need to answer. It was quite convenient actually, I saved myself so much time while I was doing my thesis paper in the final year of my university study back then.

However, the role of content on the internet has shifted since then. Today, we live in a digital era where instead of looking for content, they are being fed to us ‘forcefully’ whether you like it or not.

Think of this for a second.

Social media has become pretty much an essential platform that MOST of us log in to and use on a daily basis. Every day we spend an average of 4 hours and above browsing social media content.

Why is social media so attractive to many of us?

One of the main reasons is that through social media, we are able to find content that suits us. Using algorithms and your browser history social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram is able to find your preference and recommend it to you. Thus, content is being fed to us.

Every day, we see tons of content that flow through our news feed. From the daily updates of your social circle to information or news that are shared by people in our social circle or pages that you like and follow.

With all the content flowing through we start to become ignorant in many ways while treating with such information.

One of the good examples I can provide is the Facebook ‘BFF’ incident that has been made viral across the web. The case started when there was a post stating that the Founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg has created a special term ‘BFF’ to help users identify whether their account is safe or facing the potential of being hacked.

Figure 1: Viral post stating BFF can detect the vulnerability of your FB account. Source: Facebook

If you type BFF in the comment section and not getting a green highlight your account might face the potential of being hacked.

But that’s NOT the TRUTH at all.

This is just a viral piece created by some unknown source. [Probably thinking it’s a good prank to pull]

However, the public reaction towards this incident shows another. Many of the netizens fell prey into this viral post and went on sharing this post on their news feed. Soon enough many of the news feed posts are covered with posting that is similar shown in figure 1 & 2.

Figure 2: Comment section of users trying out the BFF feature. Source: Facebook

From this case study, drops this question; Is social media making us lazy and dumb?

The result of the viral is mainly due to the ignorance and the lack of knowledge of many of the Facebook users. We are so dependent on all the info that comes from our social media feeds and we almost believe everything that is said out there without checking the facts.

Social media platform is supposed to be a platform that is created to extend our social networking. However, along the years, it has turned into a hub where everyone shares information and updates among each other.

But with the high amount of content sharing, we have become complacent towards the content that is shared by perceiving that everything shred on Facebook is legitimate.

So how do we overcome this issue?

We can be more alert and cautious while handling/reading the contents that are shared on the social media platform.

Here are some of the basic methods to help you identify the legitimacy of the content.

Don’t react to the post. Whenever you see some content that is posted on your social media feed, DON’T REACT to it like it’s the apocalypse. Instead, check out the facts. Look into the link of the content that is shared and find out where did they come out with the source.

Always check for reference. If the content is legitimate, it ALWAYS comes from a legitimate source. For instance, the viral case regarding Facebook. If the feature is created from Facebook, then there’ll almost definitely be an official posting from Facebook itself and not from some random website. If the website that the content link to doesn’t have a credible source, most likely it’s a hoax more than a real fact.

Ask the right person. If you can’t seem to find any solid facts regarding the news, find the RIGHT person to ask. There are people that are in the industry that can help you figure out what is really going on instead of falling into the viral craze. Using the same case study as an example, if you’re confused or is afraid that your account might have the potential of being insecure, you can always consult a social media specialist (like me) or just anyone that has more knowledge in social media management. Worst case scenario, there’s always a support team for you to contact to get clarification.

With the speed of technology advancement, no doubt in a few years of time content will be fed to us in a crazier manner.

Most of the search engine and social media platforms today are equipped with high tech algorithms to study your browsing behaviour on the web. And with that info, they will place the right content at the right place for you to see it.

Hence, it’s important for us as end users to know the good and bad of social media content and how do we ensure that info that is fed to us is the right one and not some fake news that will cause unnecessary havoc.

Now is the time for us to be more equipped as an end sure, don’t fall into the bandwagon. Learn to identify the right from wrong, be a smart user, not a dumb one.