Mental Health & Social Media

Today we will dive into the relationship between mental health & social media.

Specifically, this blog will center around a letter penned to Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg.


On the surface, it is reasonable to ask yourself if social media is truly a positive element of your life.





If studies reveal the contrary, then what? While social media is here to stay, there’s no harm on diving a bit deeper and extrapolating just what it does, both negatively and positively, to our psyches.


The Big Question: Does Meta (Facebook) have an obligation to truthfully & candidly reveal to the public their findings on what the mental health ramifications are from engaging with social media?


My opinion: yes they do. We will get into specifics later. But just taking a glance at social media as a whole, this phenomenon barely even existed a decade ago. The majority of us now spend hours daily on these platforms. It’s where we go to brag about ourselves, take a peak into someone else’s life, get our news, stay in touch with old friends and distant family & so much more.





My point here: Regardless of what these studies reveal in terms of mental health, it doesn’t take a super genius to realize that social media brings along with it both positive and negative ramifications. But who regulates social media? That’s where it gets blurry.


Sure, companies like Meta and Twitter have just come to life over the past decade. But they just have free rule to do whatever they please? Wouldn’t it be an incredible lapse in judgement to not have the government intervene to ensure that the general public’s best interest is in mind? While I am not always for government intervention, social media is a different animal.





This whole debate stems from a group of academics who recently penned an open letter to Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg.


Their motive: Encouraging him to conduct a study on the mental health ramifications associated with his platforms for children in their adolescent years.


You can read the article here: OII | An Open Letter to Mr. Mark Zuckerberg: A Global Call to Act Now on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Science (ox.ac.uk)


As stated above, you’d have to bet that over the course of the next decade, the social media giants in our world will be held to stricter uniform standards, guidelines, and over-site.


While chatter has begun, exemplified by the above letter, we are still in the wild west here. As far as I see it, Meta has no one to truly answer to.





The moral thing to do would be for Meta to conduct these transparent studies, or outsource to an independent third party, and share the results with the public.


But in reality, I have a better chance of inventing time travel than the above mentioned possibility coming to fruition.


Even if Meta DID conduct a truly independent study and revealed to the public the results (both positive and negative), their revenue would drop. It would drop even if they handled the situation well from a PR perspective and clearly told its users what measures they were taking to combat the problems discovered. It would still drop.


So what is in it for Meta? We can talk being moral all we want. The reality is, the large majority of tech giants in Silicon Valley have never even heard the word.





So, while the open and transparent independent study is nice to dream about, over-site of these massive billion-dollar companies is the only true answer. Then Meta will have no choice to comply with said studies.


We could spend hours on end discussing the various affects that social media has on both the individual and our society. They are many. The truth is, we do not know a whole lot.





One thing is for certain: we ain’t ever finding out from the source themselves.



 

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