Consequences of social media need our attention

Social media consequences

I ditched my personal social media accounts just before COVID hit. Granted, I crept back on a couple of years later, but I had broken the habit, and my accounts remain largely dormant.

My reasons for leaving were both personal and societal. On the personal side, I didn’t like the me who was constantly scrolling, carefully curating my life’s content and anxiously waiting for likes on my posts.

But, perhaps more importantly, the cancerous impacts on our society were too great to ignore, starting with the cumulative cognitive impacts on two generations of young people. Then there was the misinformation, disinformation, vilification and radicalisation; the election interference, terrorism, scams and exploitation - all made easier by social. And, that was before the arrival of deepfake.

Since leaving, I have become less connected with old friends and relatives. I am prone to missing birthdays, and invitations sometimes don’t find me. Yes, there are positives to social media, but they are not the parts that make money. Social platforms trade on our attention, doing little to limit the collateral damage of their efforts to control.

But, this is a reality we choose. We don’t have to give social platforms unregulated access to young minds; or value free speech above truth, decency and democracy. 

A rare bipartisan position between Anthony Albanese and Peter Dutton following the recent events in Sydney provides an opening for change. Let’s hope this opportunity isn’t lost.

This article also appeared in The West Australian newspaper.


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