An article about the impacts of social media – by Alex (age 14)

Is Social Media a force for good, or are we turning to the dark side?

Somewhere, in a galaxy far, far away: you are reading this article. Some may opt for the more traditional method, choosing to read this on a piece of A3. Or perhaps the technique you may choose requires a password, the words being complimented by an electrical glimmer of light. To my readers, who may not know what I’m dithering on about, I’m talking about a recent innovation to the world of technology, known as the smartphone.

Image 1 - Alex (blog)

Take Larry, 77, Chelsea and Fulham, a key contributor of mine, he does not own a smartphone. Rather than sending an e-mail or a nice little text message, he sent a letter. I guarantee, that Larry wouldn’t know who or what a “Snapchat” was if one gave him an uppercut to the jaw. And to my grandad, who has inevitably spat out his morning Shreddies at my persecution of the elderly, doesn’t have a router to fall back on when in dire straits.

I can assure you, if he saw Kylie Jenner roaming the aisles of Asda, he wouldn’t give her a second glance.

My point is, while millennials are now formulating careers from the comfort of their phones, the senior citizens of our isles haven’t the foggiest idea. To the naked eye, a career on Instagram may be a chance to make easy money. However, as you delve into the plethora of issues the app possesses, you uncover a vast underbelly: of torment and misery.

A recent BBC documentary uncovered the abuse Jesy Nelson had to endure, when winning The X Factor as part of the girl band Little Mix. After winning such a renowned competition, she should’ve felt on top of the world. Instead, she was mocked: for her weight and appearance, at the mercy of social media’s vultures: whom had nothing better to do. Fortunately for her, she has emerged through the bubble of intense criticism, making herself (and her band) an international success. Others aren’t so lucky. As the use of the Internet grows around the world, so does Cyberbullying, and an increase in depression and anxiety. Teenagers are most at risk, as they have to contend with ever more strenuous exams, on top of maintaining a reputable image online.

Image 2 - Alex (blog)

If only we weren’t so fixated on our phones, and we focused on the pastimes that really matter. But, to all our readers aged between 13 and 35, taking a backseat where social media’s concerned may give you just as much joy as being in the driver’s seat. I guess, a perfect world of mine would include us all adopting the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi (Larry, keep your Weetabix in your mouth and listen to what I’ve got to say).

Wabi-Sabi celebrates the beauty of an imperfect world (so no more of this Photoshop nonsense), therefore I extend my most sincere apologies to every single member of the Kardashian family. ‘Wabi’ means an understated elegance through rustic, simple, and natural design; ‘Sabi’, on the other hand, means seeing the beauty in the flaws that come with age. I’m sure this is going to be the most cliché thing your ears have ever had to bear, but there is beauty within everyone. Unfortunately (for some of these ‘influencers’ anyway) life’s not all about flaunting ourselves and our possessions. It’s about expressing our internal beauty, which, as our country is plunged into more and more uncertainty, has become a lot more important. So, to all those out there who subjected Jesy Nelson to unwarranted abuse, I’m afraid you’re not welcome in my utopia. Although, if I’m being perfectly honest, nobody (with more than one brain cell anyway) would want you there.

It’s all well and good plucking out well-meaning philosophies from a map, but how can we put them into practice?

For starters, let’s order mandatory, social media education in our schools. Rather than learning about what Jesus did two millenniums ago, let’s learn about what the children of our country have to contend with today. That way, they might know how to use social media properly. Now, I’m quite full but let’s persevere. It’s time for the main course. Proper instruction to the social media companies themselves on what can and can’t be posted. Ultimately, it’s up to the likes of Mark Zuckerberg to keep our children healthy and happy (even if he’s too afraid to admit it). In fairness, people use social media for a range of different reasons. One that most people abide by, is letting people know what they’ve been up to. Whereas for some, namely those with wacky hairstyles in positions of political superiority, it’s about spreading their ideologies at every waking opportunity. Whilst that’s somewhat reasonable, it’s likely to irk people to the extreme. Especially if it’s coming from someone within the White House. Please don’t sue me, Donald.

Admittedly, that was an awful lot to digest. But I reckon there’s a little more room for dessert. It’s so simple, it’s almost anti-climactic. Just take a break. I understand those that use social media for good, just cannot peel their eyes away from it. I get it. But do whatever it takes; lock your phone in a safe, delete social media for a prolonged time period. In the meantime, why don’t you: spend some time with loved ones (face to face). Read a book (one made of paper). There are several things you can do without technology. Mankind has coped without it B.F. (Before Facebook), so, why not now? Even just for a few days. If you do it, then I will. Although you’ll never know, either way, whether I do or not.

To summarise, and I extend this message to all those under the age of 70. You don’t need technology to be happy. I’m sure Larry is perfectly content reading this after picking it up from the corner shop. As I eluded to earlier, he doesn’t have a smartphone. But he does have a lot of books: as well as family and friends by his side. I suppose you could say he is as happy as Larry. So, take a leaf out of his book; then, once you’ve taken out the leaf, read that book. You never know, you might just enjoy it (unless the book itself is about leaves).


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