I have used almost every popular social media and seen the lifecycle of many social media apps overtime.
At first when social media became a thing, we had no idea about how to use it or what kind of information was okay to share on these social networks. Because this whole thing was relatively new for all of us at that time, so we shared everything without any concerns about privacy, without any fear that someone who knows you in real life might find it, because most of our family or friends weren't on social media. We were used to using the internet as our little playground where we could explore, find communities with common interests and share things without any fear of judgment.
Internet was a small place back then, made up of small communities where people with similar interests would connect and just be themselves. We knew we didn't have to share personal information on internet before social media, it was an unspoken rule to always be anonymous on interent. Social media changed all that and information was not personal anymore.
The whole idea of privacy or that these social sites might use our private information is widely known now so some people are very selective about what they share on social media sites. But most of us millenials, who started using social apps from the very start at the early years of our life, had no idea about such issues in the bbeginning and we learned it the hard way after it affected our lives.
It was fun nonetheless, we did whatever we liked without any thought, made alot of new friends, who we never would've met if it was not for social media, and even fell in love with these people. The boundary between real and online life faded overtime and every person, every interaction, every negative comment was suddenly real. We were emotionally more invested in our online life than the real life.
As social media became popular and everyone was using it, our little private corner of internet expanded and everyone from our real life was in our social circle on internet. Everything about our life became public even, even the information that we weren't comfortable sharing with family & other real life people was now available to everyone.
Internet is supposed to be a place where you can share your opinions, explore interests and just be yourself without any fear of judgment holding us back, but that was not the case with social media anymore as we became more selective about what we share and say on these apps. How we portrayed ourself infront of our online social circle that was now merged with the real life. Our social media life started affecting our real life and vice versa, because there was no distinction anymore.
We became conscious about what we shared and started curating a picture of our life that we thought would be approved by everyone. We spent countless hours going through our social feed and creating a happy, outgoing persona that was liked by everyone and in doing so we forgot about who we truly are inside. The real self, with it's own ideas and interests was ignored and suppressed, just as it was in real life before all this. The terms like " Fear of missing out" became a reality for everyone.
Social media became the very thing we were trying to escape. The pressure from society that made it difficult for us to be truly ourself in the real life was now also on the internet. We started living for the approval of others, for their validation, for their likes, for their praise comments.
We'd share photos, check in to places we visited, displayed our happiness just to get a positive response from others. We shared everything that was good for them and anything that made them like us.
We were too addicted to the validation to notice that we've killed our true self, that inner child that did things for himself, the one that explored & and did things without the need of validation, was now lost.Everyone became part of the same crowd, and lost everything that made us unique.
We were stuck in a continour loop of sharing and recieving information about personal lives of others and this information feed started to affect the way we think and feel, even our thoughts were not our own anymore.
Meanwhile, the social media companies knew everything about us and had control over our feeds. They developed complex algorithms to curate the steam of information we got from our feeds and sold our private data to the highest bidders. This private information that we so willingly shared is still used to mannipulate our opinions and thoughts by targetted advertising. We slowly lost control of our lives without even realising it happening.
I spend years on social meda apps and i have come to a conclusion that i wasted all those years. The years that could have been spent in doing more productive things on internet, exploring my own interests, above all just being myself and doing things without the need for validation. Those years were all wasted in being a guinea pig for the social media experiment.
Social media will never go away, it has become a part of our lives, but we can be more concious about how we use it and how we let it use us.