What If Social Media Disappeared?

Imagine this: 

You wake up tomorrow morning. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, coffee is brewing in the coffee pot – life is good. Then, you check your phone. 

Facebook is gone. Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, too. All social media has been erased. Every single social media account and platform has been deleted like it never existed. 

Now what? 

Maybe we form a new sense of community. 

As humans, we crave and seek out a sense of connection. Without social media to provide a distant sense of connection with people we don’t know, we will probably start to venture outside more to find the real thing. The sudden re-entrance into the world might be the cause for community improvements and increases in community programs. We could all flock to state parks, playgrounds, nature conservatories, hiking areas, community beaches, community programs, etc. Neighbors could actually get to know other neighbors again. Genuine conversations would be had without notifications being a rude distraction. The sense of support offered through the closeness of a village could be reborn into our new society. 

OR

We come to find that we have lost all sense of community. The social divide grows larger and the inability to connect with one another is more evident. Neighbors don’t want to be neighbors because there is no more trust, considering you can’t just hop onto someone’s Facebook page and get a feel for the personality they put out there. The ability to learn someone inside and out via Facebook page is gone and there’s less exposure for the “bad guys”, so you’re even more defenseless to the dangers and walls within the community get even higher. 

Long distance relationships are affected. 

What people tend to love about social media is the unique ability to easily keep tabs and stay in contact with long distance friends and family. With social media gone and less “Facebook friends”, that effortless connection is gone. There would be an increased reliance on phone calls and video calls to keep in touch. This would increase the amount of effort people would need to put into their long distance relationships, which could cause relationships to either thrive or fail, depending on if that effort is met. 

OR

This need for increased effort to keep long distance relationships with friends and family intact could also bring about a rise in family gatherings and in-person get-togethers. More quality memories would be being made and families could grow closer together. With more family gatherings, generations of relatives could come together. Families and communities could become strong, unified villages again. 

Health improvements across the board. 

There isn’t a negative twist to this one. Without the safety of hiding behind the keyboard, social media bullies won’t have that option anymore. There will be far less internet bullying and harassment. Stalkers, both real life and on the internet, will have a much harder time tracking and learning about their victim’s every move. The pressure to appear as perfect as the next woman on your timeline suddenly disappears. Mental health improvements would be extraordinary. 

The improvements to the mental health of our society as a whole, and an individual level, would bring a drop in suicides and addiction issues. 

Sitting down for long periods of time is bad enough. Staring at an electronic screen, scrolling through post after post, while sitting down for long periods is even worse. Without social media, the impulse to zero in on our phones and computers would be much weaker – probably close to nonexistent. People would be driven to be more productive and motivated in their own lives and out in their communities. They would feel good enough to be active, too! 

There would be less ability to hide. 

It’s no secret that social media gives people the opportunity to portray multiple personalities. Someone may seem happy, motivated, and put together on Instagram, but they’re losing their house in real life. The most selfish of people can portray themselves as humanitarians if they wanted to (and many do). Without that curtain to hide behind, people would have to allow themselves to be seen as more of their truer self. Maybe this would cause people to take more accountability and responsibility for their actions. 

Then, there’re the introverts who rely on social media to give them the confidence to do what they normally wouldn’t. People who could never participate in a public speaking event can more comfortably post videos from the familiarity of their own homes. People who yearn for that human connection, but struggle deeply with anxieties and social setbacks rely on social media as a platform to form those connections with people. 

However, we do have to consider how much our sense of privacy would increase. Without the watchful eyes of followers, friends, and sneaky softwares banking your information, the world seems much smaller and more comfortable. The need to watch over your shoulder, second guess every post and worry about who’s doing what with how much of your information would virtually melt away. Of course, as long as the internet is running, there will always be a risk to your information and privacy, but the risk decreases drastically without social media. 

I asked approximately 75 people to describe our world without access to social media. 

I described the scenario above and asked them to tell me what they thought society would look like. The responses I got were far from what I expected, but astounding nonetheless. Over and over again, people kept mentioning the same 5 things: 

  1. Freedom
  2. Connections/connected
  3. Better
  4. Blissful
  5. Less abusive

Currently, our society is hurting. We are hurting and deteriorating in more areas that we can focus on improving  at one time. We are losing the ability to love, empathize and genuinely connect with the people and world around us. The respect we once had for human kind, nature and all life around us is growing so thin, it’s becoming transparent. Social media has desensitized us to the feelings of one another. It’s caused us to begin to see each other as screen names, rather than a human individual. 

Our human side needs to be ignited again. We need to be forced outside of our own shells and egos and into our communities, where we can contribute to society and build honest, genuine connections with our neighbors. Social media has swallowed us whole and from where I sit, it doesn’t look like a healthy dependency for our society.

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