PROCESS POST: Issues with Social Media
Week 7: October 25 - November 1
Something is Wrong on the Internet
The article Something is wrong on the internet by James Bridle was really fascinating to me. More specifically, it discusses automation and algorithms’ addictive and exploitative power. As Bridle (2017) states, “On-demand video is catnip to both parents and children, and thus to content creators and advertisers. Small children are mesmerised by these videos, whether it’s familiar characters and songs, or simply bright colours and soothing sounds.”
My Issue with Social Media Algorithms
This topic ties in perfectly with my self-care challenge this week: keeping my social media usage below 2 hours daily. I often get stuck in these endless loopholes of recommended videos on Youtube, Instagram, and especially TikTok, which I find extremely hard to break out of.
This is because these social media platforms have way too much data on me. They know the exact types of videos I love that will give me just the right amount of dopamine to keep me on the app. These social media platform’s ability to keep you scrolling is truly terrifying, and I found myself worrying about the future generation of children as I read the article. Not necessarily for the same reason Bridle mentioned but more due to the long-term effect of these social media algorithms on children’s ability to concentrate or do tasks for a long time without a dopamine hit.
As I reflect on my life, I think these social media algorithms only became very addictive to me towards the end of high school, and I only downloaded TikTok, the worst culprit, a few years ago. On the other hand, these kids are growing up surrounded by these algorithms from the moment they can hold an iPad.
The Man Who Studied the Spread of Ignorance
I also found the The Man Who Studied the Spread of Ignorance article interesting because of the extensive proliferation of misinformation in the health and wellness industry. As Kenyon (2016) stated, “Proctor found that ignorance spreads when firstly, many people do not understand a concept or fact and secondly, when special interest groups – like a commercial firm or a political group – then work hard to create confusion about an issue.”
Misinformation in the Health and Wellness Industry
Therefore, the health and wellness industry is a perfect breeding ground for misinformation because most regular people do not have a Health Science degree or even a lot of basic knowledge about human biology. As a result, many health and wellness companies try to capitalize on that to sell products that most people don’t need.
For example, I have seen a lot of companies and health & wellness influencers recommending taking melatonin if you struggle with insomnia. However, many scientific studies have shown that melatonin can sometimes do more harm than good.
In fact, “According to practice guidelines from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2017) and the American College of Physicians (2016), there’s not enough strong evidence on the effectiveness or safety of melatonin supplementation for chronic insomnia to recommend its use. The American College of Physicians guidelines strongly recommend the use of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) as an initial treatment for insomnia.” However, if you search melatonin pills on google, you will get tons of different companies selling them with no warnings or disclaimer whatsoever.
In conclusion, as I go through my health and wellness challenge, I will try to be skeptical and do more research on all the different strategies I am implementing. For example, I am taking a few vitamin and mineral supplements, which I haven’t researched much. Therefore this week, I plan to research vitamins and minerals and the best ways to get them or the best supplements.
Bridle, J. (2017, November 6). Something is wrong on the internet. Medium. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/melatonin-what-you-need-to-know
NIH. (2022, July). Melatonin: What You Need to Know. U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/melatonin-what-you-need-to-know
Kenyon, G. (2016, January 6). The Man Who Studied the Spread of Ignorance. BBC. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20160105-the-man-who-studies-the-spread-of-ignorance