Sunday December 17, 2017
Home Opinion A doctor&#821...

A doctor’s take on impact of Social Media


By Dr. Priya Mendiratta, Arkansas, USA

Social mediaAye or Nay 

The social media has changed the way we interact and think. The number of global internet-users is witnessing a 7.6-percent year on year growth. Facebook has over 1.5 billion active monthly users worldwide.

With easy access to technology, smart phones and social media the world more than ever has become more closely knit. Many of us use social media regularly to connect with our friends and family across the globe. An overwhelming majority of millennials (those born after 1980) believe, that businesses should be measured more by their social impact than by profit and over 60 percent feel personally responsible about making a positive difference in the world (1).

Some of us are using it to get information or exchange information, network meaningfully, for educational platforms. Or an educational tool or even to get answers that might be medical mysteries, have meaningful discussions on any topic of interest, promote an organization, do business even unite people for a cause or keep connected, do crowd funding for charitable causes even research to sharing our lives with our families across the globe via posts and pictures or even write and blog with a group. The social media has allowed us to keep in touch with communities, family friends or people we knew going back to kindergarten if you remembered anybody from that time to classmates, colleagues and like-minded people. In the past people crossed our paths never to cross it again in our life time but now we have all those folks in our social media site , reconnected with the social media bridge ie those that crossed to those who are currently in our lives.

However I do not think we need to give the credit alone for bringing masses together to people like Mark Zuckerberg as something similar would have been in place any ways by now even if he had not started one of the first, wealthiest and largest social media. He got plain lucky just like Alexander Fleming who has taken credit for discovering penicillin whereas the others who had an equal or more role in the discovery of the first ever antibiotic are essentially forgotten.

However many things in life are a two edged sword just like some medications and interventions in medicine. One has to be cautious about its risks and adverse impact.

Similarly the usage of social media depends on ones maturity level too.

The frontal lobes,of younger brains, i.e. the part of the brain that regulates decision making, problem solving and controls purposeful behaviors consciousness and emotions is underdeveloped lacking the judgement needed at times and are not able fathom the risks of social media. This could happen with older brains undergoing atrophy or shrinkage of brain.

Perhaps all of us, the schools and other medias like TV, news need to put a disclaimer about the social media too like as on alcohol, tobacco, drugs (if marketed) with warning labels and possible risks for parents or those young minds to be alerted.

One such negative impact of social media seems to be self obsession. Remember the  movie Zoolander with Ben stiller as the self obsessed man, with pursed lips and perhaps the smart phones created many prototypes of him! Now he may be the trend starter of selfies and those pursed lips which has led to the many of those duck faced pictures that girls post with a young generation globally absorbed in self obsession and narcissism, which we know can affect their personality development eventually.

Some of the young girls suffering from selfitis or may be low self esteem end up taking 50 or more pictures of themselves a day and exchange on different social media including Snapchat, Instagram, Phhhoto, Whatsapp, Kik, Vine, Twitter, Vsco, Tumbler, etc.

I am told Facebook is for older and retired folks only and teenagers have lost interest in it, as a social media.

Recent shocking case is of a thirteen year old murdered in Virginia by an eighteen year old teenager at Virginia tech with whom she was exchanging messages on Kik. A social media app called Omegle where you can video chat with strangers, is another wake up call for parents to be educating about the risks of social media and dangers to their children. One has to be aware that many child predators are going to these sites looking for vulnerable kids or those with low self esteem.

The cyber bullying by other children or teenagers can also cause many to feel threatened , depressed and sadly at times drive them to take their own lives.

Many children are unaware that the Photos contain EXIF data information about the camera you took the photo with and can use that data to pull the exact geographic location of where that photo was taken.(2)

They also need not post where they are going to be with friends especially to strangers and be cautioned to not include strangers in friend list, keep their settings in private and avoid dicey people .(2)

Some of the teenagers are using sexting or sexually explicit pictures on some medias unknown to the parents which get shared with porn sites or with child predators and sometimes, classmates who can actually drive the teenager to shame and suicide by sharing with others.

Several of the colleges, potential employers and insurance boards check the online profiles and many times it is impossible to take stuff off that has been posted.

It can affect admissions, employment etc. In other words e-trail can become bigger and bigger for the innocent teenagers and can come back and haunt them decades later.

The line between the virtuality and reality fuzzes in some of the brains, and like an out of body experience their minds and souls detach from the real to virtual almost like the brain of an addict.

Some patterns of behavior are very similar in both the real and social media. The extroverts may post more on social world, as the derive energy from outside World and introverts might just browse through posts as they are content with themselves, a pattern similar to the real life. The super sensitive introverts might feel that every post is directed towards them.

The social media can cause misunderstandings too amongst couples, families and even friends.

Let me give you a personal example. Recently someone was offended that on a particular social media it showed that I had read a message that was urgent and did not respond until a day later. All I had done was attend to an urgent phone call from a family member from that social media in the middle of rounds, with several learners following me including residents and medical students, and we were hurrying to reach a sick patient. I quickly answered the phone but did not pay attention to any other messages and as the day turned crazier and more stressful, could not get back to checking messages on the social media until a day later and discovered that someone had sent me a message to call back urgently a day earlier. However the social media had shown “message read” by me a day before, as I had opened it to answer the call and thus the person was offended that I had ignored an urgent message.

Again it is how we communicate in life, at work, at home or social media, depends on how we want to expedite the outcome.

Those of who want to urgently communicate have our phone numbers already, so they just need to dial it or text, perhaps social media is down on the list for such urgent messages and those who don’t have our numbers, likely don’t need to urgently get in touch and can communicate any ways they want.

There is another example. Someone we know got divorced, as his spouse was communicating with a group of single women who kept brainwashing her to leave her husband and child, ultimately her brain was influenced by the communication and after a decade of happy marriage she decided to join the singles club as it sounded more fun on the chat group.

So it is important to choose friends on social media too just like in real life.

Though it is never advisable to dump your real friends ever for those in the virtual World as there can be no comparison or replacement .

One also has to deal with noise and barrage on the net and social medias just like in real life and one needs to filter what is pleasant to one’s brain and leave the din behind.

One can be overcome on the social sites with strong emotions too from bitterness, anger, comparisons, jealousy, doubt, frustration, sadness or grief and again depends on which area of the brain is lighted i.e. right hemisphere of brain is responsible for negative emotions but perhaps if we condition to light up our brains more in the left hemisphere, we could embrace empathy, happiness, joy, euphoria, gratitude or hope to make an overall positive impact.

So the millennials perhaps lighting the left brain hemisphere strongly feel that the social media has made a positive impact in every way.

Like real life emotional intelligence, we need to develop a social intelligence too in the virtual world and take time to dwell on our strengths and weakness and focus or be insightful about ourselves so we can understand others in a better light.

Overall many are confident that social media is creating positive outcomes, emotions , engagement, trends and positive life styles and will eventually outweigh the risks of negative impacts.

As someone said your worth is not known by the likes, comments or followers on social media but in your ability to love, embrace, share joy and happiness, with those who need it the most, take note and lead.


1. The Future of Social Media Will Be Built With Positive Psychology

2. Positive and Negative Effects of Social Media on Society | Ali Kingston Mwila, ITIL®, BIT | LinkedIn

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to anyone living or in another plane is purely coincidental and unintentional

About the author:
Dr. Priya Mendiratta is a Geriatrician, an associate professor in department of Geriatrics, a Clerkship and course director for Geriatrics at University of Arkansas for medical sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA, with an additional degree in public health. She has a passion to write on health and social issues.

Next Story

Google gets the better of Facebook as top referral source for publishers

In 2016 Facebook tweaked its algorithm to prioritise posts from friends and family over publishers.

Google has beaten Facebook to become publishers' main source of external page views over the course of 2017
Google has beaten Facebook to become publishers' main source of external page views over the course of 2017. VOA
  • Google webpage traffic increases considerably
  • Facebook went down by 26% in January as compared to last year
  • Video publishing feature might has add up to the Facebook traffic

San Francisco, Dec 12,2017: Google has beaten Facebook to become publishers’ main source of external page views over the course of 2017, a new data showed.

Google used to be the main source of referral traffic for web publishers. Then Facebook eclipsed it, ReCode reported late on Monday.

According to digital analytics company, Google sent more traffic than Facebook to publishers — Facebook sent 25 per cent less traffic to publishers in 2017, while Google increased its traffic by 17 per cent.

In January, Facebook provided nearly 40 per cent of publishers’ external traffic which is now down to 26 per cent.

Google web traffic
Google AMP feature has helped it to add up to the web traffic

Google, which started the year at 34 per cent, generated 44 per cent of the total traffic. pointed out a number of factors for this turnaround.

In 2016 Facebook tweaked its algorithm to prioritise posts from friends and family over publishers.

Also, Facebook’s “Instant Articles” feature, where the service hosted some publishers’ content directly but promised to send more readers to the original site as well, has declined in importance, the analytics company found.

Since users can now publish videos directly on Facebook, this might have affected how many links to web stories publishers put on their Facebook pages.

Google’s “accelerated mobile pages” (AMP) feature, which also hosts publishers’ content directly on Google’s servers, became more important over the year.

AMP stories – typically from news publishers – are surfaced at the top of mobile search results as “Top Stories,” which drives clicks. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook Introduces Digital Training and Start-up hubs in India to Promote Digital Economy

Facebook launched digital training in India
Facebook launched digital training in India.Pixaby.

New Delhi, Nov 23: Facebook on Wednesday introduced its digital training and start-up training hubs in India aimed at helping small businesses and people grow by giving them the digital skills they need to compete in today’s digital economy.

Facebook said it plans to train more than half a million people in the country by 2020 through these online training hubs, which are being rolled out first in India.

The learning curriculum which is personalised to the individual’s needs and available in English and Hindi on mobile, the social network, which is used by 217 million people in India, announced.

“We believe the best way to prepare India for a digital economy is by equipping people with the tools, knowledge, and skills they need to succeed,” said Ritesh Mehta, Head of Programmes, Facebook, India and South Asia.

To develop the learning curriculum, the social network worked with several organisations, including Digital Vidya, Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), DharmaLife and the government’s StartupIndia initiative.

The curriculum includes vital skills for digital skill seekers and tech entrepreneurs, including how to protect their ideas, how to hire, how to go about getting funding, what regulations and legal hurdles they need to consider, how to build an online reputation, and a host of other critical skills.

This could mean teaching a small business owner how to create an online presence; helping a non-profit reach new communities and potential donors; or it could mean helping a tech entrepreneur turn their product idea into a startup through practical business advice.

Facebook said its digital training hub would provide free social and content marketing training for anyone – from students to business owners – who is looking to develop their digital knowledge and skills.

According to new research by Morning Consult in partnership with Facebook, small businesses use of digital translates into new jobs and opportunities for communities across the country.

Since 2011 Facebook has invested more than $1 billion to support small businesses globally.

The “Boost Your Business” and “SheMeansBusiness” initiatives have trained more than 60,000 small businesses, including 12,000 women entrepreneurs, in India, Facebook said. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook, Google, Bing and Twitter Join The Trust Project to Help Users Combat Fake News

In their bid to combat fake news and help readers identify trustworthy news sources, Facebook, Google, Twitter and several media organisations have joined the non-partisan "The Trust Project"

To Combat Fake News
To Combat Fake News Facebook, Twitter , Google have joined 'The Trust Project'. PIxabay.

San Francisco, Nov 19: In their bid to combat fake news and help readers identify trustworthy news sources, Facebook, Google, Twitter and several media organisations have joined the non-partisan “The Trust Project”.

“The Trust Project” is led by award-winning journalist Sally Lehrman of Santa Clara University’s Markkula Centre for Applied Ethics.

Starting from Friday, an icon will appear next to articles in Facebook News Feed.

When you click on the icon, you can read information on the organisations’ ethics and other standards, the journalists’ backgrounds, and how they do their work.

“Leading media companies representing dozens of news sites have begun to display ‘Trust Indicators’. These indicators, created by leaders from more than 75 news organisations also show what type of information people are reading a” news, opinion, analysis or advertising,” the university said in a statement.

Each indicator is signalled in the article and site code, providing the first standardised technical language for platforms to learn more from news sites about the quality and expertise behind journalists’ work.

“Google, Facebook, Bing and Twitter have all agreed to use the indicators and are investigating and piloting ideas about how to best to use them to surface and display quality journalism,” the university said.

German press agency DPA, The Economist, The Globe and Mail, the Independent Journal Review, Mic, Italy’s La Republica and La Stampa, Trinity Mirror and The Washington Post are among the companies starting to go live with “Trust Indicators” this month.

The Institute for Non-profit News has developed a WordPress plug-in to facilitate broader implementation by qualified publishers.

“An increasingly sceptical public wants to know the expertise, enterprise and ethics behind a news story. The Trust Indicators put tools into people’s hands, giving them the means to assess whether news comes from a credible source they can depend on,” Lehrman explained.

The eight core indicators are: Best Practices; Author Expertise; Type of Work; Citations and References; Methods; Locally Sourced; Diverse Voices and Actionable Feedback.

New organisations like the BBC and Hearst Television have collaborated in defining the “Trust Indicator” editorial and technical standards, and in developing the processes for implementing these.

“Quality journalism has never been more important,” said Richard Gingras, vice president of news products at Google.

“We hope to use the Type of Work indicator to improve the accuracy of article labels in Google News, and indicators such as Best Practices and Author Info in our Knowledge Panels.”

“The Trust Indicators will provide a new level of accessibility and insight into the news that people on Facebook see day in and day out,” said Alex Hardiman, Head of News Products at Facebook.

A growing number of news outlets are expected to display the indicators over the next six months, with a second phase of news partners beginning implementation work soon. (IANS)