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How Social Media Affects Individual Freedom

The Internet has been actively changing people’s lives for decades, and over time this influence is growing. Nowadays, technology not only makes life more convenient but also affects the human psyche. Closely related to this is the question of individual freedom that arises in this connection. People are continually receiving information from social networks about how other people behave and look. This creates a definite picture in their minds that they try to follow, even if it does not suit them. In addition, many young people are addicted to constantly checking social media. This also makes them constrained, forcing them to experience a kind of “withdrawal” in the absence of computers or smartphones. Thus, the limitation of individual freedom due to social networks is a severe issue of our time. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the primary causes and consequences of this situation.

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It is worth starting with what content fills modern social networks. Chidiac and Hajj (2019) argue that people have gained much more freedom to express themselves in recent years. They can engage in public debate and share their opinions with a broad audience. On the one hand, it makes people feel free and significant, allowing others to feel their worth as well. On the other hand, government officials are actively following what is happening on social networks. As a result, the level of censorship increases since not all people’s statements are pleasing to the authorities. Undoubtedly, not every word posted on social media is verified. However, often, if it is related to politics or affects the image of significant people, the state tries to eradicate such cases. This infringes upon individual freedom and prevents people from fully expressing themselves.

Another consequence of spending too much time on social media is increased levels of anxiety and depression. In particular, they arise because people always expect social approval in the form of likes or comments (Karim et al., 2020). However, they frequently want more and regularly check their smartphones for updates. This, too, is a significant limitation of human freedom. People cannot tear themselves away from smartphones; disturbing thoughts about missed news and messages regularly arise in their minds. Hence, they are unable to live life to the fullest and become attached to social media. Undoubtedly, on the one hand, the possibility of such regular communication with any part of the world is useful for people. On the other hand, such a detrimental effect on the psyche is a critical factor that must be urgently eliminated.

Social networks are a significant limitation of the freedom of many modern people. This is especially pronounced among young people since they use social networks much more often than people of the older generations. This manifests itself in the sharp need of approval, censorship, following imposed standards, and other behavior aspects. Unfortunately, the situation is not improving at the moment, as social media become more accessible. However, without competent measures to solve this problem, the mental state of modern people will deteriorate. Everyone should consciously approach the use of social networks and not forget about real life. This is the only way to save freedom, mental health, friends, and respect from others. Without solving this issue, the world will soon become a place without freedom, and there will be no mentally healthy people.

References

Chidiac, M., & Hajj, M. C. (2019). Digital media and freedom of expression: experiences, challenges, resolutions. Global Media Journal, 17, 32.

Karim, F., Oyewande, A. A., Abdalla, L. D., Ehsanullah, R. C., & Khan, S. (2020). Social media use and its connection to mental health: A systematic review. Cureus, 12(6), e8627.

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