Is social media changing the ‘fabric of society’?

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There has been a good deal in the press lately about the  get link long term effects of social media, either psychological or otherwise.

As someone from the very first generation of social media subscribers, I have watched its rapid evolution with growing interest, and more recently trepidation.

I started University in Sept 2006, precisely the time Facebook launched in the UK. I was even on Bebo and Myspace just before that (if you can still remember those).

Back then, it was (or at least felt like) a private haven, full of friends and parent free. We’re talking before smartphones, when it was still acceptable to upload endless unfiltered, incriminating and frankly awful shots and share every mood swing and rant.

The advent of more visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, with their plethora filters and influencers posting impossibly idealised content (heavily retouched and edited of course) changed that.

Now our online lives are curated. And worse, our obsession with scrutinising others’ equally deceptively ‘perfect’ lives is rampant. It has become our life blood. Our neural receptors constantly craving the next dopamine hit from that one more follower or like. Little by little, our psyches are being reprogrammed.

Meanwhile, our social feeds have also changed. Suddenly we have been seeing less of our friends and more carefully tailored and branded content.

With time, it has become apparent that it’s not just our own personal social interactions that are changing, but that the change is at a larger scale.

Our political landscape has changed immeasurably, due to dynamic social advertising capable of wide scale emotional manipulation ( Cambridge Analytica showed us this in their Trump campaign) or due to the ‘bubble effect’ that social media creates, with highly personalised feeds giving the illusion that all the world shares your views, therefore affecting the outcome of voting.

If core themes such as democracy have already been impacted to this level within just over a decade of social media, where could it take us next?

This year we have already seen the tide start to turn, Unilever’s Keith Weed recently announced an intention to  pull ad investment from platforms that “create divisions in society”, and it is only a matter of time until others follow suite.

Prominent ex social executives have also come forward cheap no prescription cialis  admitting feeling guilt, acknowledging that the financially motivated mission to maximise users’ time on social platforms and deliver ROI for advertisers has had unintended consequences on society.

With mounting pressure towards accountability, the social giants claim that things are changing and that they are working to ensure the platforms are being refocused towards the consumer. But there is still a way to go, to ensure our advertising is delivering the intended result, that children are protected and that social channels regulate properly and introduce more socially responsible measures.

As a first generation social media user, it is sad to note that the social channels of today are almost unrecognisable from the ‘safe’ haven that they provided in our student days.

But it is not too late.

With proper regulation and refocusing back to the consumer, I believe they can pull it back. As consumers we are drawn to brands with strong CSR policies, that do good as well as just delivering good products.

Let’s hold our social platforms to the same principles to protect our future.


About the author:

Sivanne Lewis is an Account Director at independent creative agency Atomic, with over 6 years experience developing campaigns for clients such as Unilever, PZ Cussons, Merlin Entertainments and P&G. A self confessed emoji junkie, she has a passion for digital, social, and data application in the industry.

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