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The Reality of Digital Society
Written by Minjung Kwon | Published. 2020.10.24 14:56 | Count : 2569

The era of digital society has subjugated over the world. So did digital technology to reshape our lifestyles. Industries and economies are gaining financial profit on a huge scale with speed. Although the media has brought us so much comfort and benefits, the media has come at a price. It has presented us a virtual, fictional, and simulated society. The era where people can’t differentiate the online world and the offline world.

As the media starts to thrive beyond control, people are getting distant towards reality as well as being addicted and fettered towards the virtual world that it has shaped. Also, people are getting lost in their identity and starting to fit themselves for the standard set by virtual society.

[A screenshot of a social network platform. Photo Credit: Minjung Kwon]

The interesting fact, though, is that most people are not aware of the fact that the media emotionally or mentally controlled them. The common idea that is shown in public is that people solely use social media to build relationships and connections with people. They believe that the only disadvantage social media possess is that people easily get addicted to it.

The wide range medium such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter is all of the elements of the media that criticize people based on the virtual but considered “realistic” identity of oneself. This criticism causes the users in constant paranoia that they might receive criticism and hatred from the other users. The paranoia set by the criticisms results in self-consciousness that causes a huge damage in self-esteem for the users. Also, the likes; comments; or followers can lower self-confidence as well as evoke fear of receiving hatred that causes a long-lasting memory of distress. People continuously suffer from emotional and mental pain. The virtual society is pressurizing the users to compete and fit each other into the mold set by the virtual society, such as in the amount of the followers, likes, or comments.

Despite all these concerns they mentally suffer from the media, why are people constantly seeking to use it?

[A screenshot of the survey results. Photo Credit: Minjung Kwon] 

To get an opinion on this topic, I randomly surveyed thirty people who use social media on a daily basis. While 59% of the people believed that the media have a bad impact, about 41% of the people believed that social media positively impacted the users. Majority of the people who thought that social media has a harmful effect on people answered that users didn’t want to feel “left-out” or “fall behind.”  The three factors: following, likes, and comments, are the major features that judges and classifies people. By these three factors, the anti-social media users are viewed as a social pariah in the two worlds, which results in the impulsivity of thinking, “left out.” This result catalyzes for them to access these platforms in order to avoid people's discomforting perspectives.

However, the majority of people who believed that social media has a good impact answered that social media rather entertains people and affects people’s lives by inspiration with the contents of other creators/influencers. They stated that it encourages people’s lives through giving them validation, acceptance, information, attention, ideas, and notifications on trend. However, there is a specific case that people need to make considerations. The validation, acceptance, information, attention, ideas, and notifications people are hankering for eventually depend on the numeric data. On top of that, I recognized that all of these factors eventually convey criticism, judgments, and standards. People would have different standards in which they consider being “accepted”, “going with the trend”, or “receive attention.” Since the number of followers, likes, or comments are quantitative data, people cannot have qualitative or reasonable opinions in their numerical standards -- numerical standards mean that the amount of followers, likes, and comments are classified in numbers. People should have various perspectives and opinions on the numerical data (number of followers, likes, or comments) of the standard in being popular. Users have different quantitative expectations towards one, and they constantly hanker for one to fulfill their numerical expectations, in which the feelings for criticism, judgments, and hatred are created. This eventually creates a standardized mix-up among the users. The users would continuously desire more followers to fulfill many people’s incompatible quantitative standards in order to receive insincere “love.” By the obsession of being viewed as “popular,” people seek public attention which they view as sincere love, not realizing that the followers might be the potential to receive criticism.

[A screenshot of the second survey. Photo Credit: Minjung Kwon]

Overall, however, most people believe that social media also possesses positive factors despite many drawbacks. Most of the respondents think that social media should be used with many guidelines and regulations. The headquarters of each platform should probably make strict guidelines on etiquette, behavior, and public engagement as well as the regulations for privacy invasion, provocative contents and statements. The respondents’ opinions about the usage of social media raised concerns. Since most people believe that social media should be used, people’s thought towards freedom in media usage gave me concerns that social media would soon be a monstrous platform where everybody in the world would use it without any guidelines in age, contents, restrictions, etc. It gave me concerns that so many adolescents and teens would get self-conscious at such a young age when they are supposed to enjoy the peace of youth. Apart from the previous guidelines and regulations suggested, the headquarters should make further restrictions to avoid online-world-addiction and meet the expectations people are looking for.

Nowadays, young adults seem to view the anti-social media users as being remote, not-fitting, and an outcast. Users are continuously facing the standardized ideals among the virtual society even though it is forcing the users for the perfection-ized fictional identity. Users are frequently seeking for "like '' and admiration from others to receive public attention.  People should really start focusing on real society simply because virtual is fake. A virtual society where people tend to conceal themselves should not be activated as the real society.  Social media is not an adequate place for communication among people.


Minjung Kwon
9th grade
Seoul Scholars International

Minjung Kwon  student_reporter@dherald.com

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