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We are slaves to social media

Facebook addiction

Statistics show an explosion of social media users in the Arab world but isn't it turning us into mindless zombie sheep?

July 18, 2012 12:00 by

Oh, how we love to celebrate amazing achievements like millions signing up for a mirage of social interaction, aka, Twitter and Facebook. Before you start yelling, yes there are some benefits to millions signing up on these platforms like the Arab Spring ‘freedom’ and finding out what your friends are up to but what are some of the cons of this area?

The world is turning into a sheep rail and we are the sheep. Social media (which includes Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Whatsapp, Blackberry and the list goes on…) is turning us into anti social beings. We have become so obsessed with the latest updates, statuses, emoticons, events and funny (sometimes not so funny) anecdotes that we have forgotten to breathe the real air and talk the real talk.

We have all seen that table with three to six individuals who sadly suffer from a severe case of ‘screen glue’. They sit across from each other like zombies captured by divided parallel dimensions. We say yes to screen-to-screen interaction but God knows what we would do if real life conversation comes up. Don’t believe me? Why not, you are reading this off a screen aren’t you?

The frightening truth is not merely restricted to our contemporary behaviour, but stretches out to the reality of future generations. How will our children grow up to be and how do you think their children will end up communicating? It is human nature for us to be greedy and so it can be understood (if not condoned) as to why we took a useful yet deadly tool like social media and made it our life’s ambition.

In articles all over the regional media, new reports have announced that 45 million users are currently active on Facebook from the Arab World and that Twitter users have crossed the 2 million mark. All reports suggest these statistics as celebratory figures when in fact, when put in perspective; they are frightening.

The last time that something this crazy hit human beings was possibly Beatlemania but even then it wasn’t so addictive. At the end of the day, users are using these platforms for their own reasons but it is still a business. Facebook and Twitter are businesses and they need to survive and they will fly to the moon and back to ensure that they inject addictive factors to our minds to keep us coming back.

Fadi Salem, Director of Governance and Innovation Program, DSG and co-author of the report, said: “The increased use of Arabic suggests that social media in the Arab region has clearly outgrown the perception of being a platform for ‘the elite’. Notably, it has now become a tool for the masses for engaging in civil activities and influencing change in Arab societies.”

Influencing societies you say? What happens after society is sufficiently influenced in a positive direction? Will we give it up cold turkey? No. If you start smoking cigarettes for a week to appear cool, you’re not going to stop after that week. What makes this any different?

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