The Paradox of Social media: Connecting or Harming?

Nicole Jawabreh, Yiming Liu, Yuemeng Lyn

Twitter” by chriscorneschi is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

As we know, social media has become an innovative idea with amazing opportunities and a great scope for further advancements (Akram and Kumar, 2017). Recent years have seen major and progressive change on the internet and the ability to connect digitally. Social Media platforms have transformed the way individuals can connect, share and communicate with each other. Although it is idealised that these platforms can bridge geographical distances and bring together a range of communities, it is also a medium to creating harm, via online harassment, anonymous bullying, attacks on marginalised groups, and other negative challenges.

A well-known and popular platform, Twitter, has a very easy and direct use of their tweeting and messaging features make it simple for harassers to send abusive messages, hateful comments, and threats. One in ten tweets that had mentioned specifically black women politicians and journalists, within a sample analyzed by Amnesty International, had been deemed as either abusive or problematic. More specifically, it had been concluded that black women were disproportionately targeted, as they are 84% more likely to be targeted in an abusive tweet as opposed to a white women. The one in ten can be compared to the one in fifteen for white women. In saying this, clearly elucidates how Twitter, an online social media platform can be used as means to fuel hate and abuse against marginalised communities, especially after backlashes on how Twitter is inadequate and slow to respond to harassment reports. 

On the other hand, social media is harming, such as Cyberstalking. Cyberstalking refers to the use of the Internet and other technologies to harass or stalk others online. This online harassment is an extension of cyberbullying and in-person stalking. It can take the form of emails, text messages, social media posts, etc., and is often methodical, deliberate, and persistent. Cyberstalking is a growing problem. According to the Pew Research Center, four in 10 Americans have experienced online harassment, and 62 percent of them consider it a major problem. While some of the online harassment experienced by people in the survey was just nuisance behavior, nearly one in five Americans said they had experienced serious forms of online harassment. These include physical threats, sexual harassment and stalking. Cyberstalking has the potential to have a wide range of physical and emotional consequences for the target. For example, it is not uncommon for those who have been harassed online to feel angry, fearful, and confused. They may also have trouble sleeping and even complain of stomach problems.

In the age of social media, the digital realm has become a double-edged sword when it comes to our mental well-being. Research has unveiled a troubling connection between excessive social media consumption and heightened levels of anxiety and depression, particularly among the younger generation. But what exactly lies behind this unsettling trend? The answer lies in the constant comparison with others, the allure of meticulously curated idealized images, and the pervasive fear of missing out (FOMO) (Warrender & Milne, 2020). As we scroll through our feeds, we’re bombarded with a seemingly endless stream of seemingly perfect lives, picturesque vacations, and seemingly effortless achievements. These snapshots of ‘perfection’ can leave us feeling inadequate and fuel the flames of self-doubt. The pressure to measure up to these idealized standards can weigh heavily on our shoulders, leading to increased anxiety and depressive symptoms. According to the Real Clinical Experience survey, one patient in the inpatient recovery group commented that when he felt his condition was improving, he opened social media to see friends or other people’s happy lives (Warrender & Milne, 2020). He felt his negative feelings surge and became more depressed (Warrender & Milne, 2020).. This unavoidable and uncontrollable social comparison from social media can lead to a serious psychological imbalance that affects mental health (Warrender & Milne, 2020).

References List:

Akram, W. and Kumar, R. (2017). A Study on Positive and Negative Effects of Social Media on Society. International Journal of Computer Sciences and Engineering, 5(10), pp.351–354. doi:

Amnesty International. (2018). Amnesty and Element AI release largest ever study into abuse against women on Twitter. [online] Available at:

Warrender, D & Milne, R (2020) How use of social media and social comparison affect mental health. Nursing Times [online]; (pp. 56-59)