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Social media desensitizes people to harsh realities

By Carlie Vassos, November 25 2017 —

Technology has made mass media widely accessible, effectively forcing people to deal with constant exposure to tough subjects. Social media applications like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram allow us to share memories, keep tabs on our friends’ lives and give us millions of videos and articles that we click, view, absorb and repeat.

We are living in an era of technological innovation and a majority Canadians are experiencing the full extent of it. According to the 2017 “State of the Creator Economy” report by IZEA, 94 per cent of Canadians use Facebook, 70 per cent use Twitter, 65 per cent use Instagram, 48 per cent use Snapchat and 98 per cent use Youtube. All respondents use social media for at least 15 hours each month.

Social media bombards us with information. Through manipulative advertisements, fake news stories and edited photos, the internet has a way of making people believe that what they’re seeing is the truth when it’s actually false or misconstrued. Due to the excess of information, we cannot verify everything or hear. We often form opinions without truly questioning whether the information we see is true.

Due to the quantity of information, stories and pictures of terrible events only seem to inspire temporary reactions. Consider Haiti after the recent hurricanes, all of the terrorist attacks in 2017, or the pictures of refugee children that washed up on shore in Europe. Each event inspired people to come together and emotionally moved people, but only until we all moved onto the next tragedy.

Mass media is not an inherently bad thing. It inspires people and allows voices to be heard, but its dangers lie in its ability to numb us to the horrors of the surrounding world. It ultimately takes away our ability to be mindful and heedful of one another after times of crisis. In the words of the English poet W.H. Auden, “What the mass media offers is not popular art, but entertainment which is intended to be consumed like food: forgotten and replaced by a new dish.”

Articles published in the Gauntlet‘s opinion section do not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board.

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