Facebook Ruined My Mind

Is Social Media Ruining Students?

Click to view nice, big graphic full of stats on social media and learning

In 2005 The Guardian ran an article stating that,

The distractions of constant emails, text and phone messages are a greater threat to IQ and concentration than taking cannabis.

That was 2 years before the iPhone was released to the world and before we’d ever heard of Twitter or the majority of us could sign up for a Facebook account.

Smart phones and high-speed data networks with wide-range coverage have changed the way we communicate. They have also changed the way we think and the way we make decisions.

In this tech-savvy generation the question “What can we do?” has replaced “What ought we do?” . Mankind, unfettered by the Industrial Revolution is now reaching new, dizzying heights through the use of the Internet/Social Media Revolution.

We lap up new technology quicker than a light lunch at YO! Sushi and, herded on by the pack in full stride, we couldn’t pause for thought to digest our achievements even if we desired to.

Does Facebook Create or Destroy Society?

OnlineEducation.net (HT Bill Hutchison) has produced this nice graphic that shows the result of a study on the effects of Social Media upon students.

One fascinating conclusion is the effect of Facebook on students. According to the research,

“Facebook addiction” is searched 350x more than “cigarette addiction.”

The feelings that this addiction brings includes, “frantically craving, very anxious, extremely antsy, miserable, jittery, and crazy.” Should stand them well for Finals week then.

We can connect to all of our friends – past, present and future – and can organise events, view photos, share links. Great. It’s a grand extension of society online.

But then we’re told that “48% of students on Facebook think they’re sadder than they’re friends” with “25% of college students [showing] serious depression in their status updates”.

Perhaps this cyber-world of relationships isn’t as rosy at it can seem. Perhaps all the smiling, happy photos of our friends and a culture of ‘liking’ what we say (incidentally, you can like this post on the left and boost my endorphine levels) leaves us feeling a little second-best. What if we don’t look as good as our friends? What if our lives are boring compared to others? What if no one ‘likes’ what I have to say?

Facebook may turn out to be less of a social group than a self-promotion tool where the strong survive and the weak slowly lose their mind. Either way, it would appear that the setup is more orientated toward the individual than the group. Are you coming to this event. Do you like this photo. Do you want to play Farmville (to which the answer is emphatically no, always).

For a philosopher/theologian’s take on Facebook, have a look at Understanding Social Media (PDF) by Douglas Groothius. Groothius offers an indepth analysis with some helpful tips on how to get the best and avoid the worst that Facebook has to offer.

Do We Unplug or Engage?

We face a choice, as a generation or two before us faced with the television, to engage with this new realm of technology or ‘pull the plug’ and opt out. I don’t suppose to know the answer to this but perhaps we can take a lesson from history here.

Before Media became Social a wise sage by the name of Malcom Muggeridge gave a series of lectures that became that brilliant book Christ and the Media. At the end of the book John Stott concludes with these remarks which I wish to leave us with,

“I myself believe, you see, the media go wrong … it’s no good blaming them: when the meat goes bad it’s no good blaming the meat and the bacteria that are making the meat putrefy: it’s the fault of the salt that’s not there to stop it from going bad. And if the media have gone bad, so bad that we want to take our aerials out, who is to blame? Are you pointing the fingure at them? Over there? I point the finger here. It’s our fault. It’s the fault of Christian people. If only we could be the salt of the earth as we were meant to be, and refine, and reescue for Jesus Christ.”

  • Some good thoughts here.

    I have described my relationship with Facebook as a love / hate relationship. To be honest I often think that if I didn’t use Facebook for work there would be a good chance I would make the choice to disengage…

    Of course after reading the quote from Malcom Muggeridge at the edge of the article I’m also challenged to engage deeper to try to bring salt to the social media ecosystem. It’s just hard sometimes when you feel like you’re trying to talk in a room of screaming people.

  • I hear you. I’ve had those very same thoughts about Facebook from time to time.

    Doug Groothius’ article (linked above) has some practical ideas to help keep Facebook under control and stop it from gaining control of us.

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